Francesco Molinari and Lorenzo Gagli led the home challenge as five players moved into a share of the clubhouse lead at the BMW Italian Open presented by CartaSi.
Ryder Cup star Molinari reached ten under par after carding a second round 68, and was joined by his fellow Italian Gagli, in-form Frenchman Grégory Bourdy, Welshman Rhys Davies and England’s Gary Boyd.
Playing in his home city of Turin, Molinari moved into the lead with three birdies in an outward 33, only to slip back with a bogey at the third.
But he responded with a tee shot to eight feet at the par three sixth that led to a birdie and gained another shot at the next when he holed from 20 feet.
That gave the locals plenty to cheer, as did Challenge Tour graduate Gagli’s 66, which included an eagle, five birdies and a solitary bogey on the 15th.
“It's very nice to be back home and seeing friends,” said Molinari. “I had a few busy days but now the focus is totally on the golf.
“I know the course inside out, but I was saying yesterday sometimes that is an advantage and sometimes not. You have memories of the course, some good and some bad, and you have to draw on memories of shots you might have hit ten years ago.”
Boyd is without a top-ten finish this season but seven birdies in a bogey-free 65 saw him return to the sort of form that helped him finish 50th on last season’s Race to Dubai.
Bourdy came second in Wales last week and was also a runner-up in Malaysia earlier in the season, and he continued to impress with a deft chip within a foot at the eighth leading to one of seven birdies in his 68.
“The key was the end of the round with four birdies,” said the World Number 76. “I made some mistakes but I am right in there. We had to hit a lot of drivers with the wet conditions but you get better control on the soft fairways.”
Davies has quickly built a reputation as one of the best putters on The European Tour, and the former Trophee Hassan II winner showed why by holing from 12 feet at the second, six feet at the next and 12 feet at the fifth as he gained three shots in four holes.
“I didn't hit the ball as well as yesterday so I had to scramble a bit more, so in many ways the 68 today was better than the 66 yesterday,” said the 26 year old. “There are lots of different ways to make birdies, hitting it close or making long putts and my putting's been good.
“I did a lot of putting when I was younger and I guess I grew up on fairly fast links greens which may have helped and putting in the wind you need a good rhythm so maybe that has something to do with my putting stroke.”
His 68 left him in the top group, one ahead of India’s Jeev Milkha Singh (66) and France’s Victor Dubuisson - who starred with a magnificent ten under par 62.
Of the afternoon starters, England’s Robert Rock - who led overnight on eight under with compatriot Chris Wood - quickly joined the group on nine under with a birdie at the second.
Another crowd pleaser, 18 year old Matteo Manassero, was also going well - he birdied the first two holes to move to eight under.
Wood birdied the eighth and ninth to turn in 34, and with Rock gaining another stroke at the third and Manassero picking up back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh there was now an eight-way tie at the top.
Rock - seeking a maiden European Tour title after three runner-up finishes and 17 other top tens - pulled two clear with consecutive birdies at the 11th and 12th.
Play was suspended shortly before 1700 local time due to inclement weather.
Play resumed at 1810 following a delay of one hour and 20 minutes, and one the resumption Wood’s birdie at the 15th and a Rock bogey saw the pair tied on 11 under.
Dutchman Joost Luiten birdied four in a row from the sixth, eagled the 11th and then picked up another shot at the 14th to join the English pair out in front.