In many regions the fall of the Roman Empire in the West led to the complete
disappearance of the cities. In northern Italy, by contrast, the cities proved
remarkably tenacious. Most of the Roman cities of the region survived into
mediaeval times, and their physical appearance provided notable evidence of
continuity, for example in the walls and street plans. But, of course, much was
changed. The great public buildings which had given the Roman cities their
distinctive character survived, if at all, only as ruins, and, after a long decline, the
Roman political institutions, council and magistrates, ceased to function.