The Italian criminal trial experienced remarkable reform in 1988, attempting to establish an adversarial-based process to replace its deficient inquisitorial system. This presents a unique example of large-scale convergence of these two approaches that are often deemed to be diametrically opposed. This article presents the findings of empirical research that explored the nature and extent of adversarial procedures operating in Italy. The role of the trial judge was closely examined since it is significantly different in these two systems. Observation of criminal trial procedures was completed in Italy and Australia (Australia case juxtaposed as a more traditional adversarial system), and semi-structured interviews were carried out with Italian trial judges. It was found that while adversarial elements are observable in Italian courtrooms, continued adversity exists. This is argued to be the result of some key areas of inattention by reformers in the initial process of policy change and legal transplantation. Abstract published by arrangement with Taylor and Francis.