The terms of the lively debate on federalism still going on in Italy are presented. Improving efficiency through fiscal federalism is certainly considered, but the dominant theme is perhaps on purely political grounds. Even if the transition process from unitary to federal state has actually started, it is not yet clear what sort of fiscal federalism is being pursued. Co-operative fiscal federalism could be an important vehicle through which northern people’s demand for local autonomy could be made compatible with the less developed economy of southern Italy. To introduce fiscal federalism, however, central government must be willing to reduce its activities. Whilst implementing any reasonable form of fiscal federalism in Italy, the central power would have to considerably change its standpoint and behaviour. In evaluating the achievements towards fiscal federalism up to now, it is possible to perceive an offer of decen-tralisation, which could be an attempt to escape autonomous pressures by building a system of relationships that actually strengthens central predominance. The ideologies of dirigism and centralism appear to be particularly exposed to the danger of using decentralisation as a means of defusing the push for autonomy: this seems to be one of the greatest impediments fiscal federalism is facing in Italy at the moment.