- The Clumsy Metropolis Urban dynamics and globalization in a medium sized metropolitan area of the Italian “Mezzogiorno”   click here to open paper content463 kb
by    Martinico, Francesco | fmartinico@dau.unict.it   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
The paper presents the case of the impacts of globalization dynamics on a metropolitan area of Southern Italy, pointing out the main localisation patterns of non residential activities . The separation between relevant city marketing efforts and a weak capacity of planning at metropolitan level is also highlighted.
Metropolitan areas are changing profoundly in the globalization era. They are, more and more, characterised by settlement patterns in which city sprawl is the prevailing feature. The real novelty is the multipolar nature that they are assuming, in contrast with traditional settlement patterns of fordist metropolises. Among others features, new industrial and commercial landscapes are marking metropolitan sprawl worldwide. Phenomena like the settlement of new high-tech production facilities or the diffusion of commercial clusters or large shopping malls represent an important attribute of metropolitan systems.
In this scenario, planning has to confront new challenges related to the increasingly complex interactions between urban places as centres for economic, social and cultural life, and new dynamics marked by complex flows of information, services and labour resources.
Moreover, cities, the place of knowledge based economies, are becoming nodes of a complex network where competition in attracting investments is becoming fierce.
In this scenario, the major cities of European lagging regions, including the Italian “Mezzogiorno” are confronting this new perspectives with a specific stance. In particular, some areas of Southern Italy are in an uncertain condition, between a substantial alignment with the consumption patterns and lifestyles of richer areas and a weak capacity of assuming a relevant role in the global network of competing cities.
This paper presents some findings of a more comprehensive research on the Catania Metropolitan Area, the second largest city and the only one that is assuming a marked multipolar configuration in Sicily. In particular, the focus is on localisation patterns of commercial activities and on the emergence of an embryonic diffusion of high tech firms, generated by the presence of a state-of-art semiconductor plant.
A smart marketing action conducted in the second half of the 90’s was able to partially reverse the negative stigma attached to the city, but this was not followed by an effort to set up a coherent policy at metropolitan level. The considerable gain in terms of city image has been not accompanied by substantial actions aimed at solving the major inefficiencies of this metropolitan system, within a coherent strategic framework aimed at favouring/orienting the overall development of the area.
However, the analyses of collected data reveal that settlement dynamics begin to follow a pattern that take advantage of the dense interactions that characterise this metropolitan area like larger and better managed ones.

Why the case is interesting for participants
The issues highlighted are relevant to understand the new role of metropolitan areas in the globalization era. The case presented can help participants in comparing different situations in order to better understand similarities and differences of the described phenomena and of the realated planning problems.
Metropolitan Areas
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