Even though the province has been a territorial division unit since the unification of Italy, despite the passing of over 150 years it has not been able to obtain a clear institutional identity. Its existence has been repeatedly questioned with attempts of abolition followed by reactivation. The economic crisis of 2008 brought again into question the legitimacy and efficiency of the functioning of the province. The latter was about to be abolished by means of an unsuccessful constitutional reform, which was rejected in the constitutional referendum of December 4, 2016. Nevertheless, in 2014 Parliament adopted the so-called Delrio Act, which did not eliminate the province, but transformed it into the so-called wide territorial unit (enti territoriali di area vasta) together with the newly created metropolitan cities. In Sicily, the provinces were abolished and free consortia were created in their place, while in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region inter-municipal territorial unions were formed. After the reforms carried out as a result of the economic crisis of 2008, the province became only one of many units of an intermediate level of the state structure and its actual significance was related to the policy of a particular region and assigned functions (regional rescaling). The weakening of the political position of the province is associated with its increasing dependence on the region, the elimination of the direct election of its organs, unpaid character of work in provincial bodies and the reduction of financial resources for existing competences.