The article aims to analyse the evolution and modernization of Rome in the last 30 years. To this end, we focus on both structural and institutional change and try to identify the main ruptures, continuities and driving forces of the new Roman model. After the second world war, Rome was generally considered to be a cumbersome capital city with a heavy bureaucratic sector and without any strong ‘local’ political forces and social movements capable of bringing about economic and political change. Nevertheless, a new and more democratic local governance and subregulation mode emerged during the post‐Fordist era, which allowed the production and reproduction of new socio‐economic relations that in turn influenced a new economic model for the city. This new governance has led to some interesting forms of ‘democratization’ that are difficult to find in other post‐Fordist metropolises. However, the Roman model is also characterized — as in other global metropolises — by forms of social exclusion, poverty and polarization between the peripheries and central/high‐income districts, in a sort of two‐speed development. At the same time, the traditional bureaucracy and its connected ‘state bourgeoisie’, although still relevant, are no longer dominant. New service activities have brought about new agents, new powers and new institutions.