The paper shows that traditional specialization of the Italian banking sector can explain its attenuated involvement in the financial crisis as well as its increasing difficulties to face the consequent 'real' crisis and the European crisis of the sovereign debts. However this same specialization does not match with the fact that, from 1998 to 2006, the Italian banks achieved profitability roughly on a par with their European competitors. To justify this apparent paradox, it must be noted that Italian banking sector exploited its quasi-monopolistic access to the abundant stock of financial wealth held by Italian households. It followed an inefficient allocation of the financial wealth which contributed to the stagnation of Italian economy. The 'real' and the European crises are putting Italian banking sector in a critical position. Hence, it is time to overcome the pivotal role played by banks within Italian financial market.