Courageous efforts to innovate Italian urban planning, attempting from the first half of the 1990s to redefine urban government action methods, were largely unsuccessful. This was true both in terms of the ability for effective handling of the most urgent public problems in Italian cities and with respect to establishing innovative policy design practices. The article seeks to describe the reasons for this failure with a contextual analysis of the political cycle in Italian cities after the demolition of the local political regulation system subsequent to the ‘Tangentopoli’ corruption scandal. The end of that cycle is seen as the context required for policy analysis. In turn, that closure is traced back to phenomena of a general nature inherent to the long and incomplete Italian transition, and more specifically to the poor performance of the urban sector culture and practice reforms of the past 20 years.
Keywords: Urban policies; political cycle; innovation