The essay looks at the repercussions of the end of the Cold War on Italy’s domestic politics and foreign policy, criticising the stereotype of an internal political system heavily conditioned by the international one. Refusing this assumption, the author argues that the basic continuity of the Italian domestic system is above all the result of the country’s internal balance of power, upon which international influences have only a limited impact mostly when the internal elites decide to use them to reinforce their position. The essay then describes the evolution of Italian politics since the mid 1970s by exploring the interplay between the country’s three main political forces, the DC, the PCI and the PSI. Faced with an apparently insoluble stalemate between a declining DC and a PCI which could not force itself to break free from its original ideological attachment to the USSR, the Socialist party tried to revolutionize the essential bipolarism of Italian politics by becoming a third dominant force a project which ran into the opposition of the two other major parties and was therefore almost doomed from the start. The resulting failure to renew the structural flaws of the domestic political system entailed its total collapse in the early 1990s, making it more difficult for Italy to grasp the opportunities offered to its foreign policy by the end of the Cold War. In the last part of the essay, the author looks at the structural interests of Italian foreign policy in the post-Cold war era, stressing their continuity from the Middle East to the Balkans with some of its basic outlines since the unification of the country.