We investigate the determinants of executive pay in a sample of Italian firms. To the best of our knowledge this is the first study on the compensation of Italian executives. We estimate that an increase of real profits per firm by 1 billion lire increases the pay of top executives by only 504 thousand lire, more than the increase found for middle management (184 thousand). Pay-performance sensitivity is stronger in firms where profits are declining and profit variability is relatively low. This sensitivity is lower in domestic-owned firms and in firms that are not affiliated to a multinational group, a result consistent with the main features of Italian capitalism.