The comune (Italian pronunciation: [koˈmuːne]; plural: comuni [koˈmuːni]) is a local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality.[1] It is the third-level administrative division of Italy, after regions (regioni) and provinces (province). The comune can also have the title of città ('city').[2]

Municipalities of Italy
Comuni (Italian)
CategoryRegionalised unitary state
LocationItalian Republic
Populations32 (Morterone) – 2,758,454 (Rome)
Areas0.1206 km2 (0.0466 sq mi) (Atrani) –
1,287.36 km2 (497.05 sq mi) (Rome)
  • Communal Government, Provincial Government, Regional Government, National Government
Administrative divisions of Italy:
- Regions (black borders)
- Provinces (dark gray borders)
- Comuni (light grey borders)

Formed praeter legem according to the principles consolidated in medieval municipalities,[3] the comune is provided for by art. 114 of the Constitution of the Italian Republic.[4] It can be divided into frazioni, which in turn may have limited power due to special elective assemblies.[5]

In the autonomous region of the Aosta Valley, a comune is officially called a commune in French.


The comune provides essential public services: registry of births and deaths, registry of deeds, and maintenance of local roads and public works.[6][7][8] Many comuni have a Polizia Comunale (communal police), which is responsible for public order duties.[9] The comune also deal with the definition and compliance with the piano regolatore generale (general regulator plan), a document that regulates the building activity within the communal area.[10]

All communal structures or schools, sports and cultural structures such as communal libraries, theaters, etc. are managed by the comuni.[11] Comuni must have their own communal statute and have a climatic and seismic classification of their territory for the purposes of prevention and civil protection.[12] Comuni also deal with the waste management.[13]

It is headed by a mayor (sindaco or sindaca) assisted by a legislative body, the consiglio comunale (communal council), and an executive body, the giunta comunale (communal committee).[14] The mayor and members of the consiglio comunale are elected together by resident citizens: the coalition of the elected mayor (who needs a relative majority or an absolute majority in the first or second round of voting, depending on the population) gains three fifths of the consiglio's seats.[15]

The giunta comunale is chaired by the mayor, who appoints others members, called assessori, one of whom serves as deputy mayor (vicesindaco).[16] The offices of the comune are housed in a building usually called the municipio, or palazzo comunale ("town hall").[17]

As of January 2021, there were 7,904 comuni in Italy;[18] they vary considerably in size and population. For example, the comune of Rome, in Lazio, has an area of 1,287.36 km2 (497.05 sq mi) and a population of 2,758,454 inhabitants, and is both the largest and the most populated.[19]

Mural crown for the title of comune. It is located in the upper part of the coat of arms of the comune

Atrani in the province of Salerno (Campania) was the smallest comune by area, with only 0.1206 km2 (0.0466 sq mi),[20] and Morterone (Lombardy) is the smallest by population.[21] Many present-day comuni trace their roots along timescales spanning centuries and at times millennia.[22][23]

The northernmost comune is Predoi, the southernmost one Lampedusa e Linosa, the westernmost Bardonecchia and the easternmost Otranto.[24] The comune with the longest name is San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore,[25] while the comuni with the shortest name are Lu, Ro, Ne, Re and Vo'[26]

The population density of the comuni varies widely by province and region. The province of Barletta-Andria-Trani, for example, has 381,091 inhabitants in 10 comuni,[27] or over 39,000 inhabitants per comune; whereas the province of Isernia has 81,415 inhabitants in 52 comuni,[28] or 1,640 inhabitants per comune – roughly 24 times more communal units per inhabitant.

The coats of arms of the comuni are assigned by decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic by the Office of State Ceremonial and Honors, Honors and Heraldry Service (division of the Presidency of the Council born from the transformation of the Royal Consulta Araldica, suppressed pursuant to the provisions final of the Constitution of the Italian Republic).[29]


Number of comuni and population in Italy[18][30]

Administrative subdivisions within comuni vary according to their population size.

Comuni with at least 250,000 residents are divided into circoscrizioni[31] (roughly equivalent to French arrondissements or London boroughs) to which the comune delegates administrative functions like the running of schools, social services and waste collection; the delegated functions vary from comune to comune. These bodies are headed by an elected president and a local council.

Smaller comuni usually comprise:

  • A main city, town or village, that almost always gives its name to the comune; such a place 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 city hall.
  • Outlying areas often called frazioni (singular: frazione, abbreviated: fraz., literally 'fraction'), each usually centred on a small town or village. These frazioni usually never had pasts as independent settlements, but occasionally are former smaller comuni consolidated into a larger one. They may also represent settlements which predate 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 due to the institution of the consiglio di frazione (fraction council), a local form of government which can interact with the comune to address local needs, requests and claims. Even smaller places are called località ('localities', abbreviated: loc.).
  • Smaller administrative divisions called municipi,[32] rioni, quartieri, terzieri, sestieri or contrade, which are similar to districts and neighbourhoods.

Sometimes a frazione might be more populated than the capoluogo; and rarely, owing to unusual circumstances (like depopulation), the town hall and its administrative functions can be moved 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 ('dispersed comune') and the frazione which hosts the town hall (municipio) is a sede municipale (compare county seat).


There are not many perfect homonymous comuni. There are only six cases in 12 comuni:[33]

  • Calliano: Calliano, Piedmont and Calliano, Trentino
  • Castro: Castro, Apulia and Castro, Lombardy
  • Livo: Livo, Lombardy and Livo, Trentino
  • Peglio: Peglio, Lombardy and Peglio, Marche
  • Samone: Samone, Piedmont and Samone, Trentino
  • San Teodoro: San Teodoro, Sardinia and San Teodoro, Sicily

This is mostly due to the fact the name of the province or region was appended to the name of the comune in order to avoid the confusion. Remarkably two provincial capitals share the name Reggio: Reggio nell'Emilia, the capital of the province of Reggio Emilia, in the Emilia-Romagna region, and Reggio di Calabria, the capital of the homonymous metropolitan city, in the Calabria region. 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).

Title of city

Mural crown for the title of città ("city").

The title of città ('city') in Italy is granted to comuni that have been awarded it by decree of the King of Italy (until 1946) or of the provisional head of state (from 1946 to 1948) or, subsequently, of the President of the Italian Republic (after 1948), on the proposal of the Ministry of the Interior, to which the comune concerned sends an application for a concession, by virtue of their historical, artistic, civic or demographic importance.[2]

The comuni endowed with the title of città usually carry the golden crown above their coat of arms, except with different provisions in the decree approving the coat of arms or in the presence). "The crown of the city ([...]) is formed by a golden circle opened by eight city gates (five visible) with two cordoned walls on the margins, supporting eight towers (five visible) joined by curtain walls, all in gold and black walled".[34]


Largest comuni by area

The following is a list of the largest comuni in Italy, in descending order of surface area, according to ISTAT data referring to 9 October 2011.[35] The provincial capitals are highlighted in bold.

RankComuneRegionProvinceArea (km2)
1RomeLazioRome1,287.36 km2 (497.05 sq mi)
2RavennaEmilia-RomagnaRavenna653.82 km2 (252.44 sq mi)
3CerignolaApuliaFoggia593.93 km2 (229.32 sq mi)
4NotoSicilySyracuse554.99 km2 (214.28 sq mi)
5SassariSardiniaSassari547.04 km2 (211.21 sq mi)
6MonrealeSicilyPalermo530.18 km2 (204.70 sq mi)
7GubbioUmbriaPerugia525.78 km2 (203.00 sq mi)
8FoggiaApuliaFoggia509.26 km2 (196.63 sq mi)
9L'AquilaAbruzzoL'Aquila473.91 km2 (182.98 sq mi)
10GrossetoTuscanyGrosseto473.55 km2 (182.84 sq mi)
11PerugiaUmbriaPerugia449.51 km2 (173.56 sq mi)
12RagusaSicilyRagusa444.67 km2 (171.69 sq mi)
13AltamuraApuliaBari431.38 km2 (166.56 sq mi)
14CaltanissettaSicilyCaltanissetta421.25 km2 (162.65 sq mi)
15VeniceVenetoVenice415.90 km2 (160.58 sq mi)
16ViterboLazioViterbo406.23 km2 (156.85 sq mi)
17FerraraEmilia-RomagnaFerrara405.16 km2 (156.43 sq mi)
18AndriaApuliaBarletta-Andria-Trani402.89 km2 (155.56 sq mi)
19MateraBasilicataMatera392.09 km2 (151.39 sq mi)
20Città di CastelloUmbriaPerugia387.32 km2 (149.55 sq mi)
21Gravina in PugliaApuliaBari384.74 km2 (148.55 sq mi)
22ArezzoTuscanyArezzo384.70 km2 (148.53 sq mi)
23OlbiaSardiniaSassari383.64 km2 (148.12 sq mi)
24CaltagironeSicilyCatania383.38 km2 (148.02 sq mi)
25MancianoTuscanyGrosseto372.51 km2 (143.83 sq mi)
26EnnaSicilyEnna358.75 km2 (138.51 sq mi)
27ManfredoniaApuliaFoggia354.54 km2 (136.89 sq mi)
28SpoletoUmbriaPerugia348.14 km2 (134.42 sq mi)
29Corigliano-RossanoCalabriaCosenza346.56 km2 (133.81 sq mi)
30CortonaTuscanyArezzo342.97 km2 (132.42 sq mi)

Smallest comuni by area

The following is a list of the smallest comuni in Italy, in ascending order of surface area, according to ISTAT data referring to 9 October 2011.[35]

RankComuneRegionProvinceArea (km2)
1AtraniCampaniaSalerno0.1206 km2 (0.0466 sq mi)
2MiaglianoPiedmontBiella0.6678 km2 (0.2578 sq mi)
3Fiorano al SerioLombardyBergamo1.0601 km2 (0.4093 sq mi)
4Conca dei MariniCampaniaSalerno1.1281 km2 (0.4356 sq mi)
5RoccafioritaSicilyMessina1.1682 km2 (0.4510 sq mi)
6SolzaLombardyBergamo1.2278 km2 (0.4741 sq mi)
7MaslianicoLombardyComo1.2885 km2 (0.4975 sq mi)
8San Lorenzo al MareLiguriaImperia1.2886 km2 (0.4975 sq mi)
9Crosio della ValleLombardyVarese1.4407 km2 (0.5563 sq mi)
10Ferrera di VareseLombardyVarese1.5265 km2 (0.5894 sq mi)
11CasavatoreCampaniaNaples1.5267 km2 (0.5895 sq mi)
12PiarioLombardyBergamo1.5451 km2 (0.5966 sq mi)
14VajontFriuli-Venezia GiuliaPordenone1.5860 km2 (0.6124 sq mi)
15ArizzanoPiedmontVerbano-Cusio-Ossola1.5995 km2 (0.6176 sq mi)
16Longone al SegrinoLombardyComo1.6045 km2 (0.6195 sq mi)
17ViganòLombardyLecco1.6049 km2 (0.6197 sq mi)
18BrunelloLombardyVarese1.6200 km2 (0.6255 sq mi)
19CamparadaLombardyMonza e Brianza1.6337 km2 (0.6308 sq mi)
20CainesTrentino-Alto AdigeSouth Tyrol1.6345 km2 (0.6311 sq mi)
21CurtiCampaniaCaserta1.6894 km2 (0.6523 sq mi)
22Castel RozzoneLombardyBergamo1.7066 km2 (0.6589 sq mi)
23LozzaLombardyVarese1.7100 km2 (0.6602 sq mi)
24Aci BonaccorsiSicilyCatania1.7243 km2 (0.6658 sq mi)
25CalvignascoLombardyMilan1.7272 km2 (0.6669 sq mi)
26VentoteneLazioLatina1.7454 km2 (0.6739 sq mi)
27LirioLombardyPavia1.7457 km2 (0.6740 sq mi)
28Masciago PrimoLombardyVarese1.8082 km2 (0.6981 sq mi)
29MontelloLombardyBergamo1.8156 km2 (0.7010 sq mi)
30CarzanoTrentino-Alto AdigeTrentino1.8202 km2 (0.7028 sq mi)

Highest comuni by altitude

The following is a list of the first comuni by altitude, in descending order.[36] The indicated altitude coincides with the height above sea level of the town hall.

(Meters above
the sea level)
1SestrierePiedmontTurin2,035 m (6,677 ft)
2ChamoisAosta Valley1,818 m (5,965 ft)
3LivignoLombardySondrio1,816 m (5,958 ft)
4ClavierePiedmontTurin1,760 m (5,770 ft)
5Rhêmes-Notre-DameAosta Valley1,725 m (5,659 ft)
6AyasAosta Valley1,699 m (5,574 ft)
7ArgenteraPiedmontCuneo1,684 m (5,525 ft)
8ValgrisencheAosta Valley1,664 m (5,459 ft)
9La MagdeleineAosta Valley1,644 m (5,394 ft)
10ElvaPiedmontCuneo1,637 m (5,371 ft)
11Gressoney-La-TrinitéAosta Valley1,635 m (5,364 ft)
12Ceresole RealePiedmontTurin1,620 m (5,310 ft)
13PontechianalePiedmontCuneo1,614 m (5,295 ft)
14BionazAosta Valley1,606 m (5,269 ft)
15BellinoPiedmontCuneo1,572 m (5,157 ft)
16Corvara in BadiaTrentino-Alto AdigeSouth Tyrol1,568 m (5,144 ft)
17Selva di Val GardenaTrentino-Alto AdigeSouth Tyrol1,563 m (5,128 ft)
18Sauze di CesanaPiedmontTurin1,560 m (5,120 ft)
19CogneAosta Valley1,544 m (5,066 ft)
20ValsavarencheAosta Valley1,541 m (5,056 ft)
21ValtournencheAosta Valley1,528 m (5,013 ft)
22PragelatoPiedmontTurin1,524 m (5,000 ft)
23Curon VenostaTrentino-Alto AdigeSouth Tyrol1,520 m (4,990 ft)
24Saint-Rhémy-en-BossesAosta Valley1,519 m (4,984 ft)
25Sauze d'OulxPiedmontTurin1,509 m (4,951 ft)
26FoppoloLombardyBergamo1,508 m (4,948 ft)
27TorgnonAosta Valley1,489 m (4,885 ft)
28PredoiTrentino-Alto AdigeSouth Tyrol1,475 m (4,839 ft)
29Livinallongo del Col di LanaVenetoBelluno1,475 m (4,839 ft)
30CanazeiTrentino-Alto AdigeTrentino1,465 m (4,806 ft)

Largest comuni by population

List of the first comuni by population in descending order, according to ISTAT data updated to 28 February 2022.[37] The regional capitals are in bold.

4TurinPiedmontTurin846 067
5PalermoSicilyPalermo628 883
6GenoaLiguriaGenoa560 155
16TriesteFriuli-Venezia GiuliaTrieste200,454
21Reggio CalabriaCalabriaReggio Calabria171,546
22Reggio EmiliaEmilia-RomagnaReggio Emilia169,100

Comuni by demographic ranges

The data is updated as of 1 January 2021.[38]

Map of Italy's population density at the 2011 census
Demographic range Comuni Population
Number % Residents %
more than 500,000 inhab. 6 0,08% 7,170,310 12.10%
from 250,000 to 499,999 inhab. 6 0.08% 1,874,966 3.16%
from 100,000 to 249,999 inhab. 32 0.40% 4,749,945 8.02%
from 60,000 to 99,999 inhab. 58 0.73% 4,446,634 7.50%
from 20,000 to 59,999 inhab. 404 5.11% 13,253,362 22.37%
from 10,000 to 19,999 inhab. 698 8.83% 9,662,013 16.31%
from 5,000 to 9,999 inhab. 1,179 14.92% 8,331,631 14.06%
from 3,000 to 4,999 inhab. 1,087 13.75% 4,222,171 7.13%
from 2,000 to 2,999 inhab. 921 11.65% 2,258,907 3.81%
from 1,000 to 1,999 inhab. 1,520 19.23% 2,213,443 3.74%
from 500 to 999 inhab. 1,101 13.93% 811,919 1.37%
less than 500 inhab. 892 11.29% 262,265 0.44%
Total 7,904 100.00% 59,257,566 100.00%

Demographic ranges by macroregion

The data is updated as of 1 January 2021.[38]

Demographic range Number of comuni Resident population
North Centre South North Centre South
more than 500,000 inhab. 3 1 2 2,804,841 2,783,809 1,581,660
from 250,000 to 499,999 inhab. 3 1 2 907,910 359,755 607,301
from 100,000 to 249,999 inhab. 17 5 10 2,503,474 749,523 1,496,948
from 60,000 to 99,999 inhab. 16 16 26 1,289,906 1,253,707 1,903,021
from 20,000 to 59,999 inhab. 158 78 168 4,974,716 2,647,385 5,631,261
from 10,000 to 19,999 inhab. 353 115 230 4,824,497 1,655,230 3,182,286
from 5,000 to 9,999 inhab. 672 155 352 4,723,268 1,139,230 2,469,133
from 3,000 to 4,999 inhab. 620 141 326 2,404,254 549,864 1,268,053
from 2,000 to 2,999 inhab. 501 100 320 1,229,705 242,581 786,621
from 1,000 to 1,999 inhab. 793 182 545 1,155,222 270,306 787,915
from 500 to 999 inhab. 627 110 364 458,324 82,312 271,283
less than 500 inhab. 622 64 206 175,415 19,431 67,419
Total 4,385 968 2,551 27,451,532 11,753,133 20,052,901

See also

  • Regions of Italy
  • Metropolitan cities of Italy
  • Provinces of Italy
  • List of municipalities of Italy
  • List of renamed municipalities in Italy
  • Alphabetical list of municipalities of Italy
  • Fusion of municipalities of Italy
  • Municipalities of Switzerland – those in Italian-speaking areas of the country are called comuni


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