What are the reasons for the continuous decline of party activism among the young people in Italy? This paper tries to answer the question by focusing on the "deviant cases": the limited number of young Italians who are actively involved in party politics. Some theoretical explanatory models are discussed in the first part of the article and then controlled on the bases of empirical data. Samples of young party activists and non-activists of the same age are compared in order to understand which factors keep young people from participating in political life. Party activism turns out to be influenced by both socialisation and structural factors, which make a likely political career desirable and feasible in the future. Since political involvement depends on an uncommon combination of opportunities and motives, Italian young party activists stand out as "rare birds" within their generation.