The study explored the sub-national implementation of the Pan-European Criteria and Indicators (C&I) for Sustainable Forest Management in Italy, based on the statistical analysis of answers to a questionnaire provided by representatives of the Italian sub-national forest administrations. The questionnaire explored the implementation of C&I in five applications and through the analytical lenses of ‘suitability of C&I to sub-national contexts’ and ‘adaptability of administrations to C&I’. The analysis of suitability and adaptability made it possible to identify and compare challenges in, and successful experiences with, the implementation of C&I, which were then used to formulate recommendations aimed at encouraging implementation and promoting academic and policy debate. The study reveals that C&I were implemented to a moderate extent. This level of implementation was determined most of all by the suitability of C&I to the Italian sub-national contexts, and less by the adaptability of administrations. Recommendations to foster implementation of and dialogue on C&I include the need for Italian sub-national administrations to transpose the Pan-European C&I into sub-national sets tailored to local circumstances by, for example, modifying existing C&I or integrating these into new customized indicator sets.