Lega Nord party leader and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini is waging an unofficial election campaign from the beach, according to some political commentators in Italy.
Parliament is closed for summer holidays yet the government is in crisis. On Thursday, Salvini called for snap elections and withdrew his party's support for the coalition government.
On Friday, the Lega filed a no-confidence motion to bring down the government that it formed with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.
Salvini hopes the move will trigger new elections as soon as October and install him as Italy's new leader.
But his former allies in the Five Star Movement are pushing back along with the opposition centre-left, and the country's prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has demanded that Salvini "justify" his decision to provoke the crisis.
Snap elections would get in the way of Italy's obligation to finalise the first draft of a budget that has to be submitted to EU authorities by the end of September.
President Mattarella, who has the sole power to dissolve parliament, is insisting the budget must be finalised, and to that end, he could name a government of technocrats and push elections back to February or March, although this would be unpopular with Italians.
Such an administration's first task would be to find some 23 billion euros ($25.8 billion) to avert a rise in sales tax which will otherwise kick in from January.
Former Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi, who is still influential, said going back to the polls just when the government is due to start preparations for the 2020 budget would be "crazy".
But Italian news agency AIG reported that the Senate could convene as early as August 2 to dissolve parliament in the ensuing days.
According to Italy's constitution, new elections would then have to be held within 70 days.