Italy was among the promoters of the Bologna Process and the early adopters of the reform. If one looks at its impact on the formal structure of curricula and study programmes, the reform undertaken under the Bologna banner seems to have been one of the major educational reforms ever achieved in Italy. This article describes how the Bologna Process has unfolded in Italy, looking at the reasons why a reform that for long eluded Italian policymakers and higher education managers finally succeeded. The theme is approached from the point of view of the contemporary theories of institutional change, looking at the actors and interactions that made this reform possible despite strong opposition. In fact, it was a series of contingent events that weakened the balance of powers governing Italian HE, thus making institutional change possible.