The Local Entities
Alongside the Regions, the Constitution provides other administrative entities equipped with independent political
direction. These are essentially the Comuni and Province but other local entities may exist.
The administrative responsibilities of the local entities may cover a wide area and there is an increasing tendency
to maintain at a local level all matters concerning the citizen that are not of national importance. The Regions
are contributing, through delegation, to this growth in local power.
The particular attributions of the Provinces are few and objectively of no great importance. Their compulsory obligations
cover essentially provincial road maintenance and construction, provision of buildings and non-teaching staff for
the institutes of higher education, hunting, fishing in internal waters, agricultural incentives, civil protection
planning and some forms of social assistance etc. Their voluntary undertakings are chosen by the administrators
and, despite the financial constraints, are today among the most significant of provincial interventions, involving
mainly the support of cultural and sporting events.
By contrast communal powers are expanding to cover almost all matters of immediate civic importance between the
citizen and the public administration. The Communes' obligatory duties concern urban planning, construction, municipal
public works, preparation of industrial zones, provision of buildings and non-teaching staff for nursery and compulsory
education, social assistance, health and public hygiene, right to education, communal road maintenance and construction,
urban transport, control of public commerce, placards, street furniture, refuse collection, supply of water and
gas, cemeteries, traffic control, urban police, communal housing, sewerage, public slaughter-houses, fairs and
To these are then added the optional undertakings that permit, within the limits of local finance, support for
activities such as the theatre, music etc. In addition, there are the tasks delegated by the Regions and the decentralized
State functions (eg. register of births, marriages and deaths, civil status and military conscription).
It is clear therefore that the greater part of public functions relating to the ordering of the territory, social
services and economic development is concentrated on the Communes. Due to historical reasons, Italy is divided
into more than 8,000 Communes. These vary greatly both in character and size, going from metropolitan centres (Milan, Rome, Turin, Naples),
to cities (Florence, Bologna,
Palermo, Bari, Genoa),
to towns (Siena, Pisa, Trieste,
Pavia, Catania, Ancona), to small centres (the majority) with a few hundred inhabitants.
It is therefore obvious that the system cannot function uniformly and gives rise to some irregularities.
The Consigli, Assembly organs of the Commune and of the Province, are elective.
The respective executive organs of the Communes and Provinces are the Giunte Municipali and Sindaci, and the Giunte
Provinciali and Presidenti. All these officers are elected for a fiveyear period by their fellow Councillors on
the basis of their proposed programmes and can be voted out of office.
While the Consigli deal mainly with administration (budgets, plans, programmes, large contracts, regulations, staffing
levels and general policies), the Giunte have powers of proposal and execution and the Mayors and provincial Presidents
represent the entities legally, supervise overall action and maintain unity of direction. The members of the Giunte,
the Assessori, do not have individual responsibility, if not at a preliminary level, but the Mayor can delegate
to them entire sections of administration, thus creating a sort of municipal department.
The Communes' function through deliberations of the collective organs and decrees by the Mayor or of the President
of the Provincial Junta. Such acts are checked by a regional organ (the Comitato Regionale di Controllo) for legitimacy
and in particular cases of merit may be sent back for re-examination before becoming effective.
As has already been said, however, the real difficulty of local administration is that of reconciling the sizes
of the Communes with the extent and importance of their duties.
In the absence of an organized reform of local entities, there have developed, partly voluntarily and partly for
legislative requirements, moves towards forming associations among entities. Communes, and particularly the smaller
ones, often form co-operative associations, Consorzi, for the common provision of services or works of public construction
involving their respective territories.
In other cases it is the law that requires association: as for the Comunità Montane in the hill and mountain
areas defined by law; and the Associazioni di Comuni for the provision of social and health services.