Italy represents an important case of defense policy change after the Cold War. While during the bipo-lar era the country rarely intervened abroad and was deeply constrained in its defense policy by do-mestic as well as international factors, in the post-Cold War era, Italy has constantly intervened in major conflicts in the Balkans, the Middle East and Afghanistan. Yet, in the past decade, and especial-ly after the 2011 Libyan intervention, Italian activism has consistently diminished. The purpose of this article is to describe this trend and to review theories that have been put forward to explain Italian activism (and retrenchment). While several insights can emerge from multiple studies dedicated to the topic, we argue that some elements such as legacies and institutional constraints have been some-what overlooked and actually open promising avenues for research.