This research investigates the role played by the two major Italian universal banks during the growth of the building and real estate sector in the twentiesof the XXth century. It also focuses on how they reacted to the next crisis, highlighting the differences between the two institutions in the way they operated on the market. These banks had already invested in this sector but it was in the twenties that their intervention was structured in a more comprehensive way. Hence, they were able to take advantage of the opportunities induced by a growing market, even if they were subsequently forced by the changed economic framework to reorganize their portfolio of real estate shareholdings. The financial support granted during the economic crisis seems to suggest that Comit and Credit adopted a counter-cyclical behaviour, which however did not prove su- stainable in the longer term due to the broader banking crisis and to the following advent of Iri.
Keywords: Universal Banks, Banca commerciale italiana, Credito italiano, Building Sector, Real Estate Market, Economic Cycle.