This paper discusses whether it is best to make a distinction between policies for mountain areas and more general policies for ‘internal areas’ as recently proposed by the Minister for territorial cohesion. To achieve this, it reconstructs the development of the concept of mountain areas as an important category in Italian public policies starting with its place in the Constitution and in European policies starting with the Treaty of Rome. It compares these ‘juridical’ mountain regions with those found in studies conducted within various disciplines. It identifies the distinguishing features of these and compares them with the main policies that relate to them. It concludes that the category ‘internal areas’ is too broad to furnish an effective response to some of the most important problems of mountain regions, but that it is also too restrictive because it addresses rural areas only, without considering the role of cities between (intra-) and on the outskirts (peri-) of mountain areas in the processes of development and territorial cohesion.
Keywords: Mountains; internal areas; territorial cohesion policies