Since the 1990s European conservative-corporatist welfare states have expanded public support for child-and eldercare needs. This is in marked contrast to Southern European countries, of which Italy is a paradigmatic example. In Italy, the traditional configuration (limited development of social services coupled with the importance of informal care, mainly provided by women) has recently come under strain, also because of the increasing employment of women. Nonetheless, rather than the development of new policies, this has given rise to a hybrid combination of informal care and the development of a loosely regulated and little supported care market. In this sense, the article asks why care in Italy has been "going private" instead of "going public". It is argued that cultural features and political ideology do not provide a sufficient explanation: in addition to sharp financial constraints, the structure and functioning of the state and labor market and migration regulation need to be considered.