As in other European countries, over recent decades the question of metropolitan government has captured political and academic attention in Italy too. The debate has been recently fuelled by a national reform introduced to create 14 metropolitan authorities to provide for new government solutions in the territories of the larger urban areas. Based on literature and empirical observation, this paper presents a critical view of that process by examining the following questions: How do metropolitan areas relate to broader Italian urban policy? How does the reform contribute to a reshaping of multi-level governance through national and local initiatives? And how does institutional reorganisation address territorial diversity? Based on the critical understanding of these issues presented in this paper, it is argued that several obstacles still need to be overcome before metropolitan government can be properly established and institutionally effective.