Current changes in territorial organization are interpreted by focusing on two main aspects that are different yet closely interrelated. The first aspect concerns relationships between unfolding processes of territorial redefinition and changes imposed by globalization processes and by European integration, and by the loss of centrality and of part of the power of nation‐state government. The second aspect concerns the change in forms and procedures of collective action in urban and territorial policies, recognizing, in particular, the consolidation — including in practices — of forms of partnership, inter‐institutional cooperation, strategic planning and governance. Within this general context, this article aims to present and discuss changes, both ongoing and recent, by (1) presenting the changes that are emerging in the framework of Italian urban and territorial policies; and (2) discussing critically, with reference to the Italian case, the relationship between change in the idea of local territories and change in urban and territorial policies. Our aim is to verify whether, within what limits and from what point of view, the innovations introduced in the Italian context may be interpreted as changes that are moving towards more place‐focused forms of urban and territorial governance.