Rome – Italy

Between 1871 and 1971, the urban area of Rome grew by a factor of 52 and its population by a factor of 13. However, 37% of the urban area within the municipality was built without legal authorization. Unauthorized projects are major engines of urban growth, responding to real housing needs; in 2001, 41% of the urban population lived in “illegal” buildings. Hence, unauthorized projects have to be taken into consideration in the management of public services and facilities. The public authorities updated the master plan and have become increasingly aware of the importance and extension of urban sprawl. Laws were enacted in 1985, 1994, and 2003 (leggi di condono edilizio) to legalize these properties, obliging owners to pay a fine of €21,000 to do so. Consequently, the municipality has to provide services to these properties. In Italy, the State’s financial support for municipalities does not depend on their dimensions. The building of infrastructure thus places a heavy burden on the finances of large municipalities such as Rome, which measures some 120,000 ha. In addition, the limited availability of public land reduces the municipality’s ability to implement public policies. The management of local services takes atypical forms, such as private associations of residents known as consorzi.