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The paper compares the essential features of the Italian banking system with those of the other large euro-area countries. The analysis focuses on banks' size, ownership and competitiveness, their role in financing firms, the composition of their balance sheets and their degree of internationalization, profitability and terms for customers. Within this overall framework the paper examines the banking system's response to the financial crisis of 2007-09 and subsequent developments. The progressdoi:10.2139/ssrn.2126074 fatcat:5ovmcwsv4zas3gw4oqbv252z3q