Small and Medium Sized Towns

The definition is not univocal, because there is no single definition of “medium city”: it can vary depending on the territorial and urban context, however, in 2006 ESPON (European Spatial Planning Observation Planning) published the results of a research project on “The Role of Small and Medium-Sized Towns (SMESTO)” in European countries. In this work, it provides an overview of the parameters and methods used in different European countries to identify medium and small cities. From a quick review of the main quantitative criteria used, some European studies speak of average cities for those ranging from 50,000 to 250,000 inhabitants. An analysis conducted by the Portuguese research center INTELI-Inteligencia em Inovação, Centro de Inovação – “Creative-based Strategies in Small and Medium-sized Cities: Guidelines for Local Authorities” – describes: «In the EU, a large proportion of the population lives in small and medium-sized urban centres. Approximately 40% live in small urban areas (from 10,000 to 50,000 inh.) and 20% in medium- sized cities (between 50,000 and 250,000 inh.) in comparison with the more than 20% that live in large conurbations (more than 250,000 inh.)».

Even Eurotowns, the network that brings together medium-sized European cities, using only the quantitative criterion, promotes and gives voice to municipalities that have a population of between 50 and 250 thousand inh. Giovanni Tocci in his study “Cities, policies and governance tools. Strategic planning in some medium-sized Italian cities “defines” «urban centers as cities with more than 10,000 inh. (…) medium-sized cities centers with populations of between 50,000 and 250,000 units and (…) large cities centers with more than 250,000 inh». In the book “La métrole Rhin-Rhône” (2008) Raymond Woessner, in order to represent the area of influence and centrality of each city – defined “cells” – identifies small cities or local towns as cities with a population between 10,000 and 100,000 inh. On the occasion of the XXXIXth IUFA Conference – International Urban Fellows’ Association, 2009 – Klaus R. Kunzmann, on the other hand, defines them this way: «What is a medium-sized town? The definitionsvary. The most common definition is that of a town with a population of 20.000 up to 200.000, depending on population density and the respective urban system in a country». Frédéric Santamaria, in the essay “La notion de “ ville moyenne ”en France, in Espagne et au Royaume-Uni, highlights the vagueness of the notion of a media city in three countries such as France, Spain and England. In the latter country the notion refers, mainly, to the sole criterion of size, so they are medium-sized cities with a population between 25,000 and 120,000 inh.

Taking into account the definitions published in the Fourth Book “The Italy of Medium Cities” of the Italian Documentation and Studies Center ANCI-IFEL reported above and in international essays, the cities with between 10,000 and 200,000 inhabitants is considered as an inclusion criterion, provided they are not already labeled as “Metropolitan Cities” – MetropoliSes.



along the Western Mediterranean Coast - Latin Arc

According to the study “Mediterranean Paradiplomacies: The Dynamics of Diplomatic Reterritorialization” 2015, di M. Duran «Geographically, the Latin Arch corresponds approximately to the north-western part of the Mediterranean basin. It includes the coastal stretch of southern Italy and Malta, along the eastern coast of Sicily, western Italy, southern France and eastern Spain, which ends in Gibraltar and includes Sardinia, Corsica and the Balearic Islands. As such, it forms the nucleus of the Latin-European countries of southern Europe. The Latin Arc is also the formal name of a collaborative organization that brought together French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian intermediate state entities at the provincial level since its official foundation in 1998».

The organization of political and technical cooperation Arco Latino states that: «The Latin Arch is configured as the euro-territory of the north-western coast of the Mediterranean basin, which extends from Sicily, through the Italian peninsula, to southern France and the Iberian peninsula at the Strait of Gibraltar and the Portuguese Algarve. It covers 320,000 km2 and includes 43.5 million inhabitants. It has an arch shape and corresponds to the heart of Latin Europe. This region is defined by a series of common cultural, historical, socio-economic, geo-climatic and environmental characteristics that give it a specificity and an identity in the European context».

In the study “The experience of the European Landscape Observatory of the Latin Arc”, the Latin Arc is defined as: «a space for political and technical cooperation constituted by Mediterranean local authorities of intermediate level. Its members are currently Spanish Deputies and Island Councils, French Departmental Councils and Italian Provinces and metropolitan cities, and represent 10% of the population and territory of the European Union». The European Landscape Convention, in defining the “landscape policy”, aims, among other things, to organize European cooperation in this field by defining the Latin Arc as an area of political cooperation between the level II administrations of the western Mediterranean in which articulates joint positioning in defense of common interests.

Given the widespread definitions in the geo-political sphere, the cities case studies will belong to the states included in the Latin Arc, namely Spain, France and Italy.



Mediterranean climate and vegetation

Köppen defined the Mediterranean climate (or Cs, or hot summer) as the one in which: the lowest month of precipitation in the hot semester has a total rainfall of less than one third of that of the wettest winter month and in any case lower than 30 mm. The Mediterranean climate is part of the family of temperate climates and is certainly the least widespread in the world. Salvador Rivas Martínez defines the Mediterranean bio-climate as the one in which there are at least two consecutive months of summer drought. The subtropical climate of the Mediterranean characterizes the coasts of southern Europe, being modified inland in response to elevation and appearance. The main characteristics of this climatic region are the mild and wet winters, the hot and dry summers and the clear skies for most of the year, but there are marked regional variations between the lands of the western basin and the southernmost ones of the Mediterranean. The former are strongly influenced by the intrusion of maritime air masses, while the rains in southern Europe are significantly reduced in the areas located near the southern winds; Rome has an annual average of about 26 inches (660 mm).

Climatically, the Mediterranean is characterized by warm temperatures, rains dominated by winter, dry summers and a profusion of microclimates (UNEP/MAP/MED POL 2003). The average annual temperature follows a marked gradient from north to south, with local variations superimposed on the geography. In southern Europe, the Mediterranean vegetation has a distinctive character, which includes evergreen broad-leaf trees, shrubs and scrub areas. Around the sea that vegetation is called ‘Mediterranean scrub’ and includes aromatic plants and small trees such as olives and figs. The bush is widespread due to summer drought, particularly in areas where the soil is covered with limestone or earth [Encyclopædia Britannica]. The stain that distinguishes the Mediterranean climate is a form of scrub-like vegetation that typically consists of evergreen shrubs and low trees. The scrub grows in areas with precipitation and intermediate temperatures between the garrigue and the sclerophilous forest [P.R. Dallman (1998), Plant life in the world’s mediterranean climates]. 

Based on the definitions presented, the European regions considered having a Mediterranean climate and Mediterranean stain.



significant rural economy and agricultural production

In order for the rural economy of a place, region or country, and therefore its agricultural productions to be recognized, protected and promoted at a global level, the European Union has set up specific regulatory quality regimes on agri-food products and on the territories within which they are grown. Only those products that demonstrate a consolidated and codified production tradition, an inseparable link with the territory of origin, an adequate socio-entrepreneurial fabric, managing to reach high quality standards – certified by third party control bodies – can aspire to obtain and preserve the Community recognition and registration in the European register of PDO and PGI excellence certifications. Regulation (EU) No. 1151/2012 (art. 5) punctually describes the meaning of PDO and PGI acronyms, specifying that:

– with the DOP mark (Protected Designation of Origin) a product originating from a place, region or country is identified, whose quality or characteristics are essentially or exclusively due to a particular geographical environment and its intrinsic factors natural and human and whose production phases take place entirely in the defined geographical area;

– with the IGP mark (Protected Geographical Indication) a product originating from a specific place, region or country is designated, whose geographical origin is essentially attributable to a given quality, reputation or other characteristics and whose production takes place for at least one of the its phases in the defined geographical area. In addition to the DOP and IGP brands, there are also STG products (traditional specialty guaranteed), of which the level of protection is however lower. This certification is aimed in particular at production methods linked to the tradition of an area, but it is required that they are necessarily produced exclusively in that area. Mozzarella and Neapolitan pizza, for example, are the only two Italian productions to bear this brand. As for alcoholic beverages, then, not only can wines have a quality mark, but grappas and liqueurs are also recognized.

To date (2018), in Europe there are among the states with the highest DOP, IGP and STG awards: Italy (296 agribusiness, 564 wines and liqueurs), France (249 agribusiness, 514 wines and liqueurs) and Spain (196 agribusiness, 160 wines and liqueurs). For cities with recognized agricultural production, therefore the cities located in rural areas have identified with at least a certification of excellence DOP, IGP, STG registered in agricultural and derivative productions (fruit and vegetables and cereals [cl.1.6], spices [cl.1.8], flowers and ornamental plants [cl.3.5], oils and fats [cl.1.5] from the DOOR Database and wines from the E-Bacchus Database).

[EU, DOOR browse, food and agricultural products PDO e PGI.]

[EU, E-BACCHUS browse, wine PDO e PGI.]



Presence of a cultural and natural heritage in the city

In general, the term patrimony contains “the sum of wealth, material and non-material values that belong, by inheritance or tradition, to a community or even to a single individual” (Def. Encyclopedia Treccani). The Convention on the Protection of World, Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972, provides that the candidate assets can be registered on the World Heritage List as cultural heritage, natural heritage or mixed (cultural and natural) heritage.

– The Cultural Heritage is the set of assets that for particular historical, cultural and aesthetic importance are of public interest and constitute the wealth of a place and its population as:

1. monuments: monumental architectural, plastic or pictorial works, archaeological elements or structures, inscriptions, caves and groups of elements of universal value, exceptional from a historical, artistic or scientific aspect;

2. agglomerations: groups of isolated or reunited constructions which, due to their architecture, unity or integration into the landscape, have an exceptional universal value with a historical, artistic or scientific aspect;

3. sites: works of man or conjugated works of man and nature, as well as areas, including archaeological sites, of exceptional universal value with a historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological aspect.

– The Natural Heritage cannot be evaluated in a monetary sense, since it is something that goes beyond pure economic value. Fall within the environmental heritage:

1. natural monuments consisting of physical and biological formations or groups of such formations of exceptional universal value from the aesthetic or scientific aspect;

2. the geological and physiographic formations and the strictly delimited areas constituting the habitat of threatened animal and plant species, of exceptional universal value from the scientific or conservative aspect;

3. natural sites or natural areas strictly bounded by an exceptional universal value with a scientific, conservative or aesthetic appearance.

The operational guidelines for the implementation of the Convention define as assets (cultural and natural): the assets that correspond in part or in whole to both the definitions of cultural and natural heritage. Furthermore, since 1992 the important interactions between people and the natural environment have been recognized as cultural landscapes.

Intangible heritage

Then there is the heritage of intangible assets, such as: local traditions and oral expressions, traditional crafts, ritual and festive events in a community, performing arts, etc. Beyond the territories in which they are located, to be included in the World Heritage List, the sites must be of exceptional universal value and respond to at least one of the 10 criteria provided (6 cultural and 4 natural criteria). According to the Convention, UNESCO has until today (2018) recognized a total of 1092 sites (845 cultural sites, 209 natural and 38 mixed) present in 167 countries of the world. Currently Italy is the country that holds the largest number of sites (54) included in the list of World Heritage Sites, followed by China (53), Spain (47), Germany (44), France (42).

Therefore, we consider the cities inside the states included in the UNESCO Lists, having at least one world cultural and natural heritage within their region.



distance 0-10km from the seashore

A ‘coastal city’ – located therefore in the coastal area – can be understood as a city located in the transition areas between land and sea, having access to the sea. From the UNDP-GEF (Global Environmental Finance) programs, it seems that coastal cities are urban centers where land resources, marine resources and human resources have high levels of interaction. However, when these interactions take the form of tourist-seaside services, we no longer speak only of a coastal city, but rather of a tourist-coastal destination. A tourist destination can be defined as a limited geographical area, a destination for tourist flows due to the presence of favorable environmental factors and a structured offer of services. More specifically, we talk about attractions and attractions as its typical elements. The attractions are the natural or artificial features of the area, while the attractions represent the complex of tourist services that the local production system can offer the visitor to enjoy the attractions of the destination, starting from incoming agencies, information offices and tourist reception , by transport companies and by all the lodging and catering companies located in the territory.

Every tourist destination is subject to use by a multiplicity of users: among them not only tourists. In fact, residents and workers must also be included, as they are also users of the space, facilities and services in the area. The boundaries of the destination (not definable a priori) can be identified, therefore, starting from the analysis of the specific needs of each target customer. In the Mediterranean regions the tourism industry contributes on average 10.3% of total GDP and has generated 11.7% of jobs. Given its economic impact and the impact it has, directly and indirectly, on local and regional economies, coastal and maritime tourism strongly influences the economic growth of a locality. At European level, coastal and maritime tourism is the most important sector of the tourism sector, employing almost 3.2 million people and generating a total of 183 million euros in EU GDP (2011 data on 22 EU Member States). Almost one third of the entire tourist activity in Europe affects the coastal strip and about 51% of all hotel capacity in Europe is concentrated in the regions along the sea.

In Italy, coastal tourism represents 31% of the total national income, the highest percentage compared to other forms of tourism (museum, mountain, religious). In the last decade the employment rate in the coastal tourism sector (excluding the maritime sector) has considerably increased in the Mediterranean countries, registering, for example, a percentage of 3.3% in Spain. Therefore, to define whether a city is actually a tourist-coastal destination it is necessary to understand how much this sector affects within the total economy of the city and what its attractiveness is. The selection criterion will therefore be the tourist flow of visitors confirmed by the accommodation facilities present in the coastal areas (within 10 km from the sea). Through the EuroStat databases it is possible to check the number of nights spent by tourists within accommodation facilities in the coastal area (for example, Italy: 223,449,255, Spain: 365,084,742, France: 149,143,107).

A minimum data of 100,000,000 nights will be set as a criterion of inclusion.