Friday, November 2, 2012

Tuscany Loses 6 Provinces out of 10

On January 1, 2014 Tuscany will have to redefine its map after the government passed a law the other day to reduce the number of Provinces throughout the country – in fact a total of 36 have been eliminated nationwide. Tuscany will be hit the hardest, and of its 10 provinces, only 4 will remain. The new borders will see a metropolitan area headed by Florence which will incorporate the provinces of Prato and Pistoia. The two coastal areas of the region will be represented by Livorno (at the moment) and Grosseto, while Arezzo will remain independent.

What might seem like a simple decision based on reducing costs and bureaucracy is turning into an uproar rooted in longstanding local rivalries and historic conflicts. Italy in general is a country where regionalism and local pride are still very strong. It is almost impossible for people not to ask “where” someone is from, meaning what region or even more specifically what province. Often it is precisely on a provincial level that people are more sensitive - and therefore asking certain provinces to merge with others after years of autonomy is not an easy thing. Part of the problem lies in the loss of “power” and local government jobs, as well as a fear of losing local services, but there is also a large component of unrest caused by the bruised egos of the smaller provinces who feel betrayed by the obligation to succumb to these macro areas – especially when the new capital of the province will be a “rival” city. This is the case especially between Pisa and Livorno, Prato and Florence, Siena and Grosseto. However, the new technocrat government is determined to cut costs by curbing spending and waste, and the current situation of local government is not acceptable from a financial and bureaucratic standpoint.

So, Tuscans will have to bury the hatchet and face the facts: in today’s world which keeps getting “smaller” and more integrated, they’ll have to do their part and get along with their neighbors!  

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