How to deal with that debt has become something of a bête noire in both Italy and Greece – particularly set against a wider backdrop of economic slowdown at home and in the broader euro zone. Structural reforms too, remain, painfully slow.
Since the new Greek government came to power two weeks ago, it has sought to overhaul its bailout program and renegotiate its debt burden. It has also started to undo unpopular austerity measures and the country's privatization program, to the consternation of its euro zone neighbors.
Padoan said that Greece's primary need was to have a "strong and credible structural reform program that makes growth sustainable" and that once that was in place, the debt problem would resolve itself.
Structural reforms in Italy have been dogged by political upheaval and infighting between and within parties in parliament, although Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has made some progress over a new electoral law and labor market reforms.
Defending the pace of reforms, Padoan said that he said there was still appetite for change, however, saying, "I don't see any lack of steam in my boss' and government's energy towards structural reforms."
Furthermore, he added there was "a window of opportunity" to accelerate structural reforms against a better macro-economic climate.
"There is an important window of opportunity – the macro environment is improving with the oil price going down, with the euro being weaker and with (ECB) QE of course which will bring a bit more inflation – this is the time to accelerate structural reforms because they can now produce stronger results."
There are hopes that fourth-quarter euro zone GDP figures released this week will show that Italy finally exited recession. In addition, the European Commission forecasts that the economy could grow 0.6 percent this year.
Like Greece, however, Italy is dogged by unemployment, which grew in December to 12.9 percent from 12.6 percent in the same period in the previous year. Youth unemployment also stands around 40 percent, whereas in Greece it is around 50 percent.