It was the summer doldrums and while millions of Italians were on their traditional vacations, the markets were launching a violent attack on the lira.
Fearing the collapse of Italy's currency, Premier Giuliano Amato reached into the bank accounts of every Italian, amassing a solidarity fund to shore up Italy's finances.
That was 1992, and Amato's "blood and tears" policy allowed him to introduce sweeping changes in the pension and health care systems -much like the markets are demanding today.
Often late, often last-minute, Italy prides itself on coming through when facing the abyss. Could it happen again?
Or - after endless foot-dragging by Silvio Berlusconi's government - is it now too late?
Image: In this May 8, 2008 file photo, released by the Italian President's Press Office, Silvio Berlusconi is seen reading the oath of office in front of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano during the swearing in ceremony of Italy's 62nd postwar government in Rome's Quirinale Presidential Palace.
Text: Victor L Simpson, Associated Press