In 2015 I was commissioned a background report on the ‘Metropolitan City of Venice’ by Oecd. The report was a step in the preparation of the study Governing the Metropolitan City of Venice (Paris, 2015) arranged by Oecd on behalf of the Venice Municipality. I arranged the background report in collablration with Francesca Mazzoni.

The ‘Metropolitan City of Venice’ was established among others with the law n. 56/2014 and it is one of the most incongruous. To take the boundaries of the Venice Province to identify the Metropolitan City of Venice – as the law proposed – was at odds with two decades of analytical explorations of the Veneto Region’s territorial organisation. In fact, there is a general consensus on the hypothesis that the ‘Padua-Venice metropolitan area’ is the appropriate territorial scale to govern economic and spatial development in the area. The Oecd itself had endorsed this interpretation of the Veneto Region’s territorial organisation in a previously conducted study – Territorial Reviews: Venice (Paris, 2010).

What I suggested in my background report – built on a study that I had previously conducted on behalf of ‘Rete delle Associazioni Territoriali di Confindustria delle Aree metropolitane’ – was to understand the ‘Metropolitan City of Venice’ as one of the territorial sub-systems of the ‘Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area’ (after having redefined its boundaries as the law n. 56/2014 allows for). Yet rather than waiting for a one-shot institutional change leading to the ‘Padua-Venice Metropolitan Area’ (encompassing the functional urban area of Treviso), my analysis suggested to set in motion a bottom up institutionalisation process of the functional urban areas that made up the ‘Padua-Venice metropolitan area’ simultaneously. The extant national legal framework allows any intermunicipal system – and not only the ten listed in the above-mentioned law – set up an integrated governance system. The functional urban area of Padua (and the functional urban area of Treviso) could start institutionalisation processes practically identical to that defined for Venice by the above-mentioned law.

The possibility to upgrade the territorial governance system in Italy through a decentralised bottom-up process is, according to my understanding, a key innovation of the law n. 142/1990 – which regrettably has remained not implemented as regards the institutional integration of intermunicipal systems. Yet all the necessary legal pre-conditions to start bottom-up processes are not missing in the Italian legislation. What is missing is local societies’ awareness of the economic and political advantages of the institutional integration of intermunicipal systems. In particular, the advantages that would be gained as regards strategic planning in the field of social and spatial development, spatial justice and democracy.