Is IR still "an American discipline"? We share the view that "there is" such a thing as IR theorising beyond the Channel, but that Continental IR are still little known and tend to suffer from undeniable weaknesses. This article wants to contribute to the "Continental IR" debate by investigating IR theory in one of the islands of the Continental IR archipelago, most successful in keeping secret its vices and virtues: Italy. Here theoretical IR has proven to be unable to fully exploit post-Cold war opportunities to establish itself as a discipline with higher visibility. Italian theoretical IR tend to produce few efforts at "theory-building" and some recent theoretical developments never reached the Peninsula, furthermore Italian IR suffer from a certain detachment from broader IR trends both in terms of "import" and - far more - in terms of "export" of literature. We suggest that in order to understand the Italian situation it is necessary to develop an account that goes beyond the traditional purely "external" explanation of IR developments in a given community, and also draws on the cultural-institutional context, that is, on the organizational characteristics of the research environment, the habits of interaction among national professionals and between them and the external market, the political culture of the country.