This paper will investigate recent developments in the Italian real estate lending market. The paper will be organized as follows. Section one will examine the causes of the recent surge of mortgage lending in Italy with special attention on regional disparities. Some empirical comparisons among European markets will be also presented. Section two will deal with the issue of bank competition in the mortgage market. The paper will analyze whether the high growth rate of real estate lending has affected the level of bank competition. Finally, section three will link the tightening of competition that we expect, to the issue of bank risk; the paper will examine lending practices and their effect on the risk profile of Italian banks identifying the main channels through which the real estate sector can affect bank stability.