Two of the key themes explored in the history of the Roman world in recent years are the social and economic rôle of the urban elite in the cities of the empire, and the problematic question of acculturation—what Romanization was, how it was expressed and how it was disseminated. Much valuable work has been done to clarify the processes of urban social interaction and those of acculturation, but with one major drawback—a surprisingly small amount of it has focused on Italy. Despite the wealth of research on the epigraphy and archaeology of Roman Italy which has been undertaken in recent years, comparatively few attempts have been made to synthesize this into a full-length study of Italian urbanism, and studies of a very limited number of individual cities—notably Pompeii, Ostia and Rome itself—have dominated the field.