The Italian administrative system, which until 1967 was divided into 92 provinces, during the 1970s was enriched with three new units (Isernia, Pordenone and Oristano) to which eight others were added: those of Biella, Crotone, Lecco, Lodi, Rimini, Vibo Valentia and Prato, established with DL March 6, 1992 (respectively nos. 248-254) and that of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, established with DL April 30, 1992 n. 277. The total number of administrative units has thus risen to 103. The new provinces are expected to become operational starting in 1995.
In the Italian administrative system, the procedure for the establishment of new provinces follows particular phases, especially in the light of the legislation expressed in l. 142 of 1990 “ Order of local autonomies ”. Please note that pursuant to art. 133 of the Constitution, the institution of a new province, if it is maintained within the same region, takes place through a law of the Republic, at the initiative of the municipalities and after consultation with the region itself. The aforementioned l. 142 of 1990 has integrated the constitutional discipline by identifying, in art. 16, some criteria and guidelines which the municipalities must comply with. In particular, it provides that each provincial district corresponds to a territorially homogeneous area in terms of social, cultural and economic development, and has a suitable dimension to allow development planning that favors the overall rebalancing of the areas. Furthermore, the entire territory of each municipality must be part of a single province and the population of the provinces resulting from the territorial changes must not be less than 200,000 residents. The art. 16 then prescribes that the initiative of the municipalities be followed by the adhesion of the majority of the population; the municipal council votes its membership, compulsorily, with an absolute majority of its members. It is up to the pre-existing provinces to guarantee the new ones, in proportion to the territory, personnel, goods and financial resources.
The eight new administrative units are located: in Piedmont (Biella and Verbania), in Lombardy (Lecco and Lodi), in Calabria (Crotone and Vibo Valentia), in Emilia-Romagna (Rimini) and in Tuscany (Prato). Seven out of eight provinces include in their territory municipalities that belonged to a single major province, with the exception of Lecco, which was established by subtracting municipalities from the provinces of Bergamo and Como. The geographical, social and economic characteristics of the new provinces, schematically, are the following:
Biella. – The province of Biella includes 83 municipalities all separated from that of Vercelli. The Biellese area has always been a rather homogeneous area and on the whole quite isolated from the main communication routes that cross the foothills. It includes the lower Val Sesia, is enclosed to the north by a mountainous semicircle with peaks above 2500 m, to the west and east by important hydrographic basins (Sessera, Elvo) and is crossed by the Cervo river. The demographic consistency of the capital is equal to 50,993 residents. Other important centers are Cossato, Trivero, Gattinara, Candelo, all with populations ranging between 5,000 and 15,000 residents. It should be noted that for a decade Biella has surpassed Vercelli (its previous capital) in terms of demographic dimensions. As regards the nature of economic activities, the new province presents itself with a remarkable homogeneity and already in 1973 it was established in the district. Among the widely developed industrial sectors is the textile sector, which has very ancient origins and a tradition that lasts from the early Middle Ages; the fortunes of the sector are to be linked, among other things, to the presence in the territory of important waterways. Among other activities, the mechanical industry should be mentioned, while the mountain-pastoral matrix remains widespread in the area.
Verbania. – The province of Verbania has a particular characteristic already in its denomination, in fact the extended name is Verbano-Cusio-Ossola. It consists of 77 municipalities previously included in the province of Novara. The capital is Verbania, which derives its name from the lake it overlooks: Lake Maggiore, formerly called – precisely – Verbano. In turn, the municipality of Verbania was recently established (1939) and was obtained by combining Pallanza (municipal seat) and Intra. The province has a fairly diverse range of economic activities; in addition to the mechanical and textile industries, tertiary activities have developed considerably, linked both to the strong tourist vocations present in the territory and to the intense internal and international communications (Sempione). Among the most famous tourist resorts, beyond Verbania,
Lecco. – According to Itypeauto, the province of Lecco, the only new one into which municipalities of two different provinces converge (84 from the province of Como and 6 from that of Bergamo), is located on the eastern shore of Lake Como, straddling the Lecco branch; it includes eastern Brianza, Valsassina and a group of municipalities located around Calolziocorte. To underline the unanimity of the consensus shown by the 90 municipalities to the establishment of the province. The population of the capital is close to 50,000 residents. The provincial territory, which for the most part extends into a mountain environment, hosts a scattered population, and was characterized by difficult connections with the previous capital (Como). The driving economic activity is tourism, which makes use of qualified structures and which has in Merate, Mandello, Oggiono, Bellano and Colico the main centers. The agricultural sector is also developed with the presence of cereal and vegetable crops. The industrial sector is present with the textile (Bellano, Merate, Oggiono) and engineering (Mandello) sectors.
Praise. – The province of Lodi includes 61 municipalities, all from the province of Milan. It is located south of the Milanese metropolitan area and is between the Adda river to the east, the Lambro to the west and the Po to the south. Since 1975 the district of the same name had been established in the province of Milan. Among the economic activities, a prominent role is played by agriculture, whose development is linked to the entire exploitation of water for irrigation purposes, exploitation made possible by the adoption of particular hydraulic techniques. Characteristic element of this area is the so-called water rot, an irrigated lawn which, due to the thermal function of the water, is always kept in a vegetative condition, even during the winter. This type of crop is now partly abandoned for the more profitable cultivation of maize. The development of the industrial sector has encountered serious obstacles due to the contiguity of the Milan area, which has relegated the Lodi area to a subordinate role as a reservoir of manpower. Lodi, like the main cities included in the new province (Codogno, Sant’Angelo, Casalpusterlengo, Castiglione d’Adda), has been showing an inversion of the demographic trend for some years, and Lodigiano, a typical area of exodus due to its proximity with Milan (about 30 km), it is experiencing a phase of active demographic balances.