Italy has an urban population of 68% which considering that the country is seen as being developed this is a relatively low figure. This however, has not stopped the country producing some of the most famous cities in the world. The largest city in Italy is its capital Rome with a population of 2.9 million inhabitants. Located in the region of Lazio, the city is in the centre of the country and has a history as illustrious as any city in the world. The city actually has another country, Vatican City within its boundaries, and Rome is sometimes called the capital of two states. The city has been around for 2800 years and is one of the oldest urban sites in Europe. It can rightly claim to have been the birthplace of western civilization, as it was the capital of the Roman Empire.
After the Empire fell the city fell under the control of the Papacy which explains why the separate state of Vatican City remains in the city today. This control was only wrestled away in 1870, so as well as Rome being one of the oldest cities it can also claim to be one of the most modern. Rome’s history is reflected by its architecture and draws millions of tourists each year who go in search of the numerous historical sites that are available to visit. As well its historical importance Rome is also a modern day capital city. It houses central government and many of the employees within the city have jobs associated with the administrative role of the capital. It also attracts major industries and has a higher GDP than any other Italian City. If it were a country its GDP would place it 52nd in the world and it has the highest employment rate in the country, with the highest average salaries.
The Second largest city in Italy is Milan with a population of 1.35 million people who reside in the city. The city sprawls beyond its boundaries and it is estimated that in its metropolitan region it houses over 8 million people. The city is situated in the Po Valley in the northern part of the country. The metropolitan area has the 3rd largest GDP in Europe and is the largest non-capital city. The city is known as the world’s fashion capital with Milan Fashion Week being at the top of events in the fashion world.
The city was founded around 600 BC coming under the control of the Romans from 222 BC. The location just before the emergence of the Alps gave it an excellent position and it was surrounded by rich agricultural soils. After the fall of the empire the city was overrun many times by a variety of armies and in the 11th century it became one of the stronger city states During this time Milan became a Duchy and its strong trading position saw the city continuing to grow. Despite continuing conflicts, when Italy’s dependence was confirmed in 1871 Milan was in a strong position to take advantage of the commercial opportunities afforded by its central position in the region.
Huge railway construction, with the building of tunnels through the mountainous regions, meant that the city was able to fully exploit the industrialization of the country. Despite economic downturns in Italy the city still continued to grow, with it becoming the financial centre of the country. In recent times the decline of the city’s heavy manufacturing industries has seen a growth in other industries such as tourism, banking, fashion design and information technology, as well as cementing its place at the centre of Italy’s finance industry. Milan’s 8 million visitors each year are attracted by the museums, the art galleries, the fashion houses, the shopping facilities, and the world class football, and basketball teams that play in the city.