Comune

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Administrative divisions of Italy:
- Regions (black borders)
- Provinces (grey borders)
- Comuni (white division)
1,000
2,000
3,000
4,000
5,000
6,000
7,000
8,000
9,000
10,000
1861
1871
1881
1891
1901
1911
1921
1931
1941
1951
1961
1971
1981
1991
2001
2011
2016
Number of municipalities (comuni) in Italy at each census from 1861. The value for 2016 is also shown.
Number of municipalities and population in Italy[1]
Year Number Population Pop/Comune
1861 7,720 22,171,946 2,872
1871 8,383 27,295,509 3,256
1881 8,260 28,951,546 3,505
1901 8,263 32,963,316 3,989
1911 8,324 35,841,563 4,306
1921 9,195 39,396,757 4,285
1931 7,311 41,043,489 5,614
1936 7,339 42,398,489 5,777
1951 7,810 47,515,537 6,084
1961 8,035 50,623,569 6,300
1971 8,056 54,136,547 6,720
1981 8,086 56,556,911 6,994
1991 8,100 56,885,336 7,023
2001 8,101 56,995,744 7,036
2011 8,092 59,433,744 7,345
2017 7,981 60,665,551 7,601

The comune (IPA: [koˈmuːne]; plural: comuni, IPA: [koˈmuːni]) is a basic administrative division in Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality.

Importance and function[edit]

The comune provides many of the basic civil functions: registry of births and deaths, registry of deeds, and contracting for local roads and public works.

It is headed by a mayor (sindaco) assisted by a legislative body, the consiglio comunale (communal council), and an executive body, the giunta comunale (communal committee). The mayor and members of the consiglio comunale are elected together by resident citizens: the coalition of the elected mayor (who needs an absolute majority in the first or second round of voting) gains three fifths of the consiglio's seats. The giunta comunale is chaired by the mayor, who appoints others members, called assessori, one of whom is named his deputy (vicesindaco). The offices of the comune are housed in a building usually called the municipio, or palazzo comunale.

As of February 2017 there were 7,982 comuni in Italy; they vary considerably in area and population. For example, the comune of Rome, in Lazio, has an area of 1,307.71 km² and a population of 2,761,477, and is both the largest and the most populated comune in Italy; Fiera di Primiero in the province of Trentino (Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol) is the smallest comune by area, with only 0.15 km², and Pedesina in the province of Sondrio (Lombardy) is the smallest by population, with 34 inhabitants.

The density of comuni varies widely by province and region: the province of Bari, for example, has 1,564,000 inhabitants in 48 municipalities, or over 32,000 inhabitants per municipality; whereas the Aosta Valley has 121,000 inhabitants in 74 municipalities, or 1,630 inhabitants per municipality – roughly twenty times more communal units per inhabitant. There are inefficiencies at both ends of the scale, and there is concern about optimizing the size of the comuni so they may best function in the modern world, but planners are hampered by the historical resonances of the comuni, which often reach back many hundreds of years, or even a full millennium.

While provinces and regions are creations of the central government, and subject to fairly frequent border changes, the natural cultural unit is indeed the comune, for many Italians, their hometown. In recent years however, it has thus become quite rare for comuni to be merged or divided.

Many comuni also have a municipal police (polizia municipale), which is responsible for public order duties. Traffic control is their main function in addition to controlling commercial establishments to ensure they open and close according to their license.

Subdivisions[edit]

A comune usually comprises:

  • a principal town or village, that almost always gives its name to the comune; such a town is referred to as the capoluogo (“head-place” or “capital”; cf. the French chef-lieu) of the comune; the word comune is also used in casual speech to refer to the town hall.
  • other outlying areas called frazioni (singular: frazione, abbreviated fraz., literally “fraction”), each usually centred on a small town or village. These frazioni have usually never had any independent historical existence, but occasionally are former smaller comuni consolidated into a larger. They may also represent settlements which predated the capoluogo: the ancient town of Pollentia (today Pollenzo), for instance, is a frazione of Bra. In recent years the frazioni have become more important thanks to the institution of the consiglio di frazione, a local form of government which can interact with the comune and show it the local needs, requests and claims. Yet smaller places are called località (literally “localities” and often, as in the phonebook, abbreviated loc.).
  • other smaller administrative divisions called municipalità, circoscrizioni, rioni, quartieri, terzieri, sestieri or contrade, which are similar to boroughs.

Sometimes a frazione might be more populated than the capoluogo; and rarely, owing to unusual circumstances or to the depopulation of the latter, the town hall and its administrative functions move to one of the frazioni: but the comune still retains the name of the capoluogo.

In some cases, a comune might not have a capoluogo but only some frazioni. In these cases, it is a comune sparso ("sparse municipality") and the frazione which houses the town hall (municipio) is a sede municipale (compare county seat).

Homonymy[edit]

There are not many perfect homonymous Italian municipalities. There are only eight cases in 16 comuni:[2]

This is mostly due to the fact the name of the province or region was appended to the name of the municipality in order to avoid the confusion. Remarkably two provincial capitals share the name Reggio: Reggio nell'Emilia, the capital of the Reggio Emilia province, in the Emilian part of the Emilia-Romagna region, and Reggio di Calabria, the capital of the homonymous province. Many other towns or villages are likewise partial homonyms (e.g. Anzola dell'Emilia and Anzola d'Ossola, or Bagnara Calabra and Bagnara di Romagna).

See also[edit]

International

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Comuni dal 1861". www.comuniverso.it. Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  2. ^ (in Italian) Complete list and infos on Comuni-italiani.it

External links[edit]