According to TRANSPORTHINT, the territorial transformations to which the Italy over the last few years, if we stick to the formal profile, they can be considered relatively modest. To the institution (1991) of some new provinces, whose vitality appeared, in the short term, very different from case to case, in fact neither followed nor the practical implementation of the established metropolitan areas, for most of which the preliminary studies were not completed, nor the planned reorganization of the municipal districts. The areal definition of the new metropolitan districts has encountered problems of a theoretical nature, and in particular with the difficulty of identifying the functions on which the operational effectiveness of metropolitan areas should be based; moreover, a series of local resistances (from the Municipalities to the Regions) seems to have paralyzed the possibilities of change, while it has actually directed the prospects towards the simple cast of the existing provincial partitions, thus nullifying, at least in this phase, the real sense of innovation. In many cases the same analysis tools put in place (too often oriented to the consideration of economic functions alone) seemed inadequate, as well as, sometimes, the technical and political competences to which the delimitation proposal would have belonged; these, more often than not, turned out to be more sensitive to the regulatory, productive and planning components of the envisaged constituencies, than to the systemic territorial ones, and ended up not taking into account, for example, the multiform relations of order historical and cultural that in Italy characterize the relationships between cities and their respective areas of diffusion, nor the intrinsically geographical peculiarities of the territories that should have been assigned to the individual metropolitan areas.
To these probable weaknesses of the procedure were added, with an even more decisive impact, the options generated by the local balance of power. The latter are also at the origin of the persistence of consolidated municipal structures, for which a profound revision was planned; it is also necessary to add, however, that the criticisms aimed at the congruity and efficiency of the current municipal cut-out are mainly based on the territorial dimension of most of the Italian municipalities, considered excessively minute: consequently, the solution that in fact is in this sense, he envisages the abolition of a large number of circumscriptions which would be aggregated to each other or to other existing ones, to form more extensive units. In these terms, It is understandable that local resistance to the loss of rather important forms of autonomy and self-government, mainly of ancient tradition and in any case very much felt by the population, is strong. On the other hand, the reference to an alleged greater rationality of the municipal structure in other European countries is completely unfounded: France and Germany, for example, have municipalities that are much less extensive in average size than the Italian ones; in fact, however, in other countries forms of consortium collaboration between municipalities are much more widespread than in Italy that make land management more effective (in the field of transport, education, health, water supply and so on). It is easy to assume that the situation will not evolve appreciably until the
Still with regard to the territorial structure of the Italy, it should be noted that road and railway infrastructures continue, albeit much more slowly than in the recent past, to progress, especially in the sense of guaranteeing better connections with the rest of Europe and among the economically more developed Italian regions (neglecting, in general, the southern ones). The series of territorial disasters (generally defined as natural, but often not at all such) that affect in particular the mountain and foothills of Italy it will be sufficient to recall the floods that have repeatedly hit southern Piedmont and Liguria (with dozens of deaths and significant damage in 1995) or the tragic combination of landslides and flooding that caused hundreds of deaths in Campania (1998). In both these cases, and in many others of lesser seriousness, it was not difficult to identify the main causes of disasters and their consequences in the mismanagement of mountain areas and uncontrolled construction.
Another calamitous event with extremely serious consequences was the succession of earthquakes, some of which were of very strong intensity, which affected a large area between Umbria and Marche starting from 26 September 1997.and for several months of the following year. The consequences of the ensemble of seismic events were of the utmost importance: from the settlement point of view, with thousands of people forced to abandon their homes, entire agglomerations rendered uninhabitable, damage to communication routes and supply networks; from an economic point of view, with the temporary paralysis of production activities, but above all with the weakening of tourist flows in an area that has long seen a large part of its activities based on tourism; from the artistic-monumental point of view, with the serious damage of a large number of buildings of great historical and cultural importance, starting with the basilica of San Francesco in Assisi, partially restored at the end of 1999.