Italy - ASSURB

Associazione nazionale degli urbanisti e dei pianificatori territoriali e ambientali (ASSURB) 


ECTP-CEU member since: 1978 – Founding member
Amount of own members: 100
President: Alessandro Calzavara
Delegate(s): Virna Bussadori
Contacts: Via Mezzacapo 15
30175 Marghera, Venezia
tel: +39 328 1282402
fax: +39 041 4174229
e-mail : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Annual ASSURB reports to ECTP-CEU

Italy’s projects presented by ASSURB to the ECTP-CEU European and Regional Planning Awards:

2010 – 8th Edition:

• Piano Strutturale Comunale Associato dell'Ambito faentino.

• Progetto Po – Plans, programmes and projects for the protection and enhancement of the Po River in Piedmont. : Winner

• Torino – the Town Plan. The linear centrality of the central spine. Winner

2008 - 7th Edition:

• The Spatial Development Plan for the Province of Enna, Sicily.

2006 - 6th Edition:

• Land Management Plan for the City of Monza, Italy. Special Mention

Country Factsheet for Italy (.it)

ECTP-CEU Study Profession qualification Recognition - Stage II document - Appendix 4 Draft Directory (2012-12-21)
General Country Information
Capital City Rome
Population 60,795,612
Area (km2) 301,338
Population Density 201.7 per km2
EU Membership Italy joined what is now known as the EU as a founding member in 1957.
Italy is a unitary parliamentary state, composed of 8,003 municipalities (comuni), 14 metropolitan cities (città metropolitane), 101 provinces (province) and 20 regions (regioni). Five of these regions hold a special autonomous status that enables them to enact legislation on some of their local matters. The institutional framework, both for the provinces and for the municipalities, is in the process of change under the national law no. 56/2014. Each municipality is attached to a province but has direct access to its region and to the central state. Communes are called cities if the head of state grants them this title. Although the spatial and urban planning matters are shared between the municipal, provincial and regional administrative levels, spatial planning is essentially led by the regions. The central government provides financial support and general advising, including coordination. All three authorities are directly elected by the population. The spatial planning documents define policies on land development, the range of possible interventions in space and the conditions and criteria for their implementation.

Italy’s Ministry contacts:

Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport
Via Nomentana, 2
00161 Roma
T: +39 06 44121
F: +39 06 4412.3205
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport is the most important national government department with competences related to planning. The Ministry is responsible for a range of policy areas such as:
• Planning, financing, implementing and managing the infrastructure networks of national interest under State responsibility;
• Urban and housing policies also concerning both city systems and metropolitan areas;
• Activities related to transport, viability and logistics.
Other spatial policies are devised by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism or the Ministry of Environment, Sea and Territorial Protection. Real planning acts are the exclusive competence of Regions and Provinces that are supposed to define the orientation of territorial transformation of their respective territories, and of Municipalities, which prepare more implementation-oriented planning acts and elaborate land-use plans.

Planning as a Regulated Profession in Italy

The competence of planning is attributed to those graduated in spatial planning and to those holding a degree in architecture under the condition of passing a State examination in spatial planning.
Planners may perform the following professional activities:
• Spatial and urban planning, landscape and environmental planning;
• Management of the urban structures, territorial, landscape and environmental coordination and management of the environmental assessment and the feasibility of urban and regional projects;
• Development of strategies, policies and urban or territorial transformation projects.

Professional Title:
The common professional name is "Pianificatore" or planner.

EU Database Status:
The profession of “Pianificatore/Urbanista” in Italy is not included in the EU Database of Regulated Professions.

National Regulation:

Decreto Del Presidente Della Repubblica 5 giugno 2001, n. 328:

Since 2001 planners holding a degree in spatial planning are admitted to a specific State examination to enter the “planning section” of the register of the Order of Architects, Planners, Landscapers and Conservationists (CNAPPC). Same applies to architects. Only by passing this State examination in planning it is allowed to use the professional name of “pianificatore” / planner and work as such.
Since 2001 engineers are no more allowed to work as planners but eventually to collaborate with planners and other professionals in teams.

Provincial regulation:

Regulation on this level is administered by the provincial chambers of Architects, Planners, Landscapers and Conservationists in line with the national legislation.

Performing the planning profession by graduated in other affiliated disciplines (i.e. engineers, geographers, geologists, etc.) is tolerated in Italy although not legally authorised.

Universities with approved planning trainings in Italy
University education in planning is provided as a specific university degree since 1970. At present, the planners can enrol in the sector of territorial planning of Section A, or the sector of planning of Section B. Both are carried by the Order of Architects, Planners, Landscapers and Conservationists.
The courses leading to the profession of “Pianificatore Urbanista”, or urban planner, combine a three years Bachelor and a two years Master study programme in Spatial Planning. In Italy, these courses are carried, by:
◦ Polytechnic of Milan, School of Architecture and Society
◦ Polytechnic of Turin, Interuniversity Department of Science, project and policies of the territory
◦ University of Florence, Department of Architecture
◦ University of Naples Federico II, Department of Architecture
◦ University of Palermo, Polytechnic School
◦ University of Sassari, Department of Architecture, Design and Planning
◦ University Institute of Architecture in Venice, Department of Design and Planning in complex Environments
◦ Telematic University “G. Marconi”, School of Sciences and Applied Technologies
Example from “ECTP-CEU Draft Stage 2 Study on the Recognition of Planning Qualifications in Europe”:

Combined Study of Urban and Regional Planning at the University Institute of Architecture Venice:

Town Planning Press of Italy

• A+U
• ARCA International


Country regulation:

The modification to article 117 of the Italian Constitution (by Constitutional laws no. 1/1999 and no. 3/2001) conferred upon the State and the Regions concurrent powers regarding urban planning and territorial government. In these areas, according to the reform, the Regions have legislative authority, while the State is asked to promulgate laws that provide general principles, to define the general lines of national territorial development and to finance special interventions for specific municipalities, provinces, metropolitan cities and regions. Consequently, the regions obtained ample large powers and discretion in defining the objectives, procedures and instruments of territorial government, while the reform of the national framework law is seen as a law providing principles and directives of a general character.
At present, there are three main levels of planning (regional, provincial, and municipal) that must produce planning instruments within the limits of general principles laid down by the laws of the State:
• The Regional level: Piano Territoriale Regionale (territorial regional plan)
• The Metropolitan City/Provincial level: Piano Territoriale di Coordinamento Provinciale (territorial plan on provincial co-ordination)
• The Municipal level (Land use plan): mostly divided into Structural Plan and Operational Plan
The Spatial planning documents are National, Municipal and Inter-Municipal spatial planning acts:
• The National Level (PRU)
Italy does not have higher level spatial plans that oversee regional plans, such as a national spatial plan. The plans of national scale are limited to the highway, railroad, and similar infrastructure projects. The Government performs the function of guiding and coordinating urban planning, through instruments that are not considered as plans in the strict sense of the word. These instruments, rather, take the form of resolutions on general objectives or objectives relating to specific sectors, such as the instrument “Programmi di Riqualificazione Urbana (PRU)”.
• The Regional Level (PTCR, PTP)
The Territorial Regional Plan (PTCR) contains prescriptions and indications on land-use effective in relation to lower tier authorities (province, comuni) and planning instruments (province structure plan, PRG). This plan is prepared and approved by the regione. The Landscape Territorial Plan (PTP) contains indications, prescriptions and restrictions relating to the protection and exploitation of the landscape, and is effective in relation to lower tier authorities and their planning instruments as well as the private sector.
• The Local Level (PTCP, PRG)
The Territorial Plan for Metropolitan Cities or Provincial Coordination (PTCP) contains prescriptions and indications on land-use which local authorities and public administrations must conform to in the exercise of their respective competences. The plan is prepared and adopted by the provincia. The procedures for its approval are established by regional law.
The General Municipal planning documents (structural plan) provide indications for land-use at the general level, defining land-use for the area of the commune. Usually, it requires an executive plan for implementation. The SP is prepared on the instructions of the giunta comunale, adopted by the commune council and approved by the regione, or by the provincial acting on its behalf.



• Parliament of the Republic, Regional Council, Metropolitan/Provincial Assembly, City Council or Assembly.



Information, consultation and dialogue
Some principles of public participation have been carried over from the European environmental legislation. The European Community has introduced the instrument Environmental Impact Assessment and the Strategic Environmental Assessment, in order to assess the environmental impacts of human activity on the territory and effects of participatory planning.
Because of the strong independent regional governments, policy and law vary from region to region. Some have legislation requiring public participation for all new development whereas in other regions there is no policy at all. Metropolitan urban centres play an important role in promoting citizen involvement in planning.
Article 8 (Partecipazione popolare) of the National Law (Dlgs 267/2000) states that the municipalities, even on the basis of district or village, are expected to enhance the free forms of association and to promote popular participation of local government bodies. The relationships of these forms of association are governed by the Statute.


Main Planning legislation
The Italian town planning legislation is characterized by the overlapping of rules that have changed but have not been replaced; creating a corpus that has never come to constitute a single text.
The Italian planning system, concerning processes and competences, is regulated by the “Planning Law”: Legge Urbanistica, 17 agosto 1942, n. 1150.
“This law regulates the activities of urbanism and its purposes; the structure and the increase in building of towns and the general development planning in the territory of the Kingdom.”
The law requires planning at various levels and the procedures for approval. It also introduces the planning permission for all the actions of individuals within the population centres.
The successive alterations of the national planning legislation:
• Law 6 August 1967, n. 765 ("Law" bridge);
• Law 19 November 1968, n. 1187, "Changes and additions to the Planning Law August 17, 1942, n.1150";
• Law 28 January 1977 n. 10, "Regulations for the building rights of the soil.
• Law of 8 August 1985, n. 431 ( "Galasso Law ")-

The national planning system was defined for the first time in the 1942 Town Planning Act (the Planning Law 1150/42). Conceived by the ”rationalist” wing during the Fascist period, the proposed planning system was a hierarchical one, based on the strict control of urban and regional spatial development and on direct action by the national government. This was a clear system, based on two types of plan: an urban land-use plan, and a regional strategic scheme, the territorial co-ordination plan.
Such plans corresponded to two institutions: the municipalities and the national government. The most widespread level of planning has always been the land-use plan. It provided a framework of policies as well as a detailed zoning scheme, and major normative indications on what to do in each zone. It assured development rights and building regulations. The most important amendments to the Town Planning Law of 1942 was the so called ”Bridge law” of 1967 and the Joint Ministerial Decrees of 1968 introducing mandatory taxes to provide land for public uses and standards for allocating public services and infrastructure in each land-use plan according to the expected population growth over a decade.

It was between the ‘70s and the early ‘80s that the first stage of planning activity began. It sought to apply the new regional laws and to approve their town-planning instruments. In fact, the first regional territorial plans date from that period. The planning of the 8.103 Italian municipalities is still entrusted to an instrument that has quite different features from those used elsewhere in Europe. In fact the 1942 land-use plan regulates the land-use of the entire municipal territory. In terms of zoning it controls heights, densities, typologies, precisely defining buildings to be conserved, as well as the location of services and infrastructure. It is, in effect, a rigid instrument, except that, it is subject to modification processes. Today the land-use plan is acknowledged as inadequate to address the present urban complexity and to respond to the speed of global development. Undoubtedly effective in the period of urban expansion, today it appears far less effective for guiding urban and spatial transformations.

The legal planning system in Italy is now almost 70 years old. The reform process advanced progressively over the past 50 years in a time span significantly greater than that which was necessary to start.
One can basically speak of three ”regionalising” waves considering that governing spatial planning at the national central level could not adequately respond to the various local issues:
• The first was in the ‘70s, implemented by a partial transfer of functions from the national government to the regional ones. Among these, for the first time, there were administrative functions in the town planning sector, which until that moment had been exercised by the peripheral organs of the central government.
• A second "regionalisation" delegated the government to implement the regional system. This delegation was developed in a decree which established 15 Regions (five border Regions in the North and South of the country had already special statutes and greater autonomy).
• The third "regionalisation" wave started in the late ‘90 affirming the principle of subsidiary for all institutional levels and granting further devolution of powers towards local autonomies. Few functions were left to the central government while everything else not thus defined was the task and the function of the regional governments and the local authorities. The new attitude in the planning discipline aimed to set conditions for local development, shifting the attention from regulative mechanisms to urban and territorial strategic interventions.

Over the past three decades new regional and national legislation in Italy has attempted to experiment actions integrating formal rules and real practice. A planning model based on a rigid institutional and policy hierarchy is giving way to one that recognises the increased autonomy of a variety of actors.

Many things are changing very quickly. A reform, which opened up long discussions but was never finally approved, is implemented de facto by innovative regional laws and by experiments introduced into many plans in the form of sustainability, of equalising compensation and of more strategic visioning instead of strict land-use planning.
Such transition suffers from uncertainty partly deriving from the delay of national lawmakers on the issues of land use regime, simpler and fairer taxing, and the application of property rights compensation models to planning.

Regional Planning

The pressure for reform which has generated the regional planning laws over the past three decades has broader-ranging effects. New, far stronger and more autonomous regions began to take shape, often with the drive towards total devolution and lately towards federalism. They possess numerous instruments to reshape their institutional identity. These range from new regional statutes to new regional laws encompassing a variety of competences. With this strong impulse for legislative innovation, in the last two decades the regions have expressed different viewpoints leading to the promulgation of:
- comprehensive, innovative planning laws, combining the novelties deriving from the application of Law 142/90 (establishment of provincial planning) with innovations in plan forms (especially the municipal one).
- comprehensive, but not innovative planning laws, which are limited to applying Law 142/90 but without introducing other elements of innovation. Some organic but not innovative regional Planning Laws have been issued. Significantly, these are regions (and provinces) with special statutes; they are small and have very specific planning traditions.
- a number of partial laws which address very specific fragments of necessary innovation, at times also underlining important effects regarding plan contents and their effectiveness.
In terms of future intentions, almost all regions, in various ways and at various times, aim at a new organic regional Planning Law. Some are effectively working in that direction, whereas others are contradicting themselves by not carrying out their stated goals.

The result of this process is a complicated situation when addressing planning issues and even planning jargon both at the regional and local level. A variety of instruments, processes and norms were introduced making the cacophony quite big and making regional autarchy even bigger. Just in the last years of this new millennium the necessity of more comprehensive strategic planning arose between various regions, leading to some new, still ongoing forms of territorial cooperation.

Today regional planning shows a nation partly divided into two parts differing one from the other more than from provincial and municipal planning. The country's North and Centre have an appreciable number of territorial plans. The South is still partly characterised by a stalemate where some experiments are well concluded technically but have not been transformed into current plans. Numerous north-central regions have general policy regional territorial plans. The majority of them were drafted in the ‘90s. Many regions have reformed their planning legislation, introducing participatory and co-operative actions into planning practice. The result is a widely articulated ensemble of regional instruments bearing witness to an on-going renewal process, which is still evolving. A limitation is represented by the excessive number of plans for the same territory lacking coherent harmonisation, by the scarce integration between economic and territorial planning (an integration that ought to clarify responsibilities, resources and terms) which lack monitoring and control of the results of the actions undertaken.

A long terms and a step-by step reforming process has characterized the Italian Planning system in the last 20 years, due both to the emerging of the EU role, influencing the relationship between the national and the regional level in a multilevel (supranational) governance framework, and to the need of structural reforms concerning the functioning of the State and the planning system and its technical instruments.
New socio-economic demands at the end of the twentieth century and the emergence of the European actor have permitted a significant evolution of the discipline through significant innovations both in the administrative system and in different and transverse areas of spatial planning (urban renewal, strategic planning etc.) which is increasingly based on a performance-oriented viewpoint. More generally, the evolution of traditional urbanism to a territorial government orientation, and the integration between territorial development policies based on contractual approaches and socio-economic feasibility, shows attempts to bridge spatial planning and spatial development strategies. Territorial governance is no longer considered as compliance-oriented land regulation or city-shaping, but is dealt with in a performance-oriented manner at a system level, as a means for local development. Several programmes and practises narrowed the gap between spatial planning as urban and physical land-use planning and economic development planning, present almost only in debate so far, and not yet effective in legislation practice.
These changes took place most of all through innovative programmes, that enlarged the fields of Italian spatial planning, weakening to a certain extent the ‘centrality’ of the land-use plan, with interesting peculiarities.
In conclusion, in Italy considerable changes in the original conformative model has happened, bringing in performance-oriented practices and approaches. Since the modernisation processes have not tackled the national framework, the present situation is characterised by a regional reforming patchwork and a step-by-step process, with different intensity of innovative aspects, but still with a strong predominance of local level planning features.
It may be also concluded that the evolution of the discipline was also strongly driven by the enlarged number of professional planners with a specific degree that in the meantime were active in Italy. Since the first ones to graduate professionally appeared at the end of the ’70 it took quite a while to have a consistent number both within national and local administrations and working as free professionals.

Lingua V., Servillo L. (2010) The Modernisation of the Italian Planning System
Bussadori V. (2010) From Land-use, Regulative Planning to Strategic Spatial Visions. A Long and Difficult Transition in Italy

National Association of Spatial Planners 

Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport:

Ministry of Environment, Sea and Territorial Protection:

National Institute of Urban Planning: - urban Law Review:

Urban planning Institute of the Republic of Italy:

Italy’s Law Archive