In Italian, the contrast between the two mid front vowels |e(cursive beta)| and between the two mid back vowels |o(open oh)| is neutralized in unstressed syllables, where the two pairs merge into the unstressed mid ``archiphonemes'' |EO|. In this study, an instrumental investigation of the quality of the unstressed mid-vowels is presented to see if neutralization is complete (phonetically), and to determine the nature of |EO| in different contexts. The preliminary results show that there is no statistical difference between an |E| alternating with |e|, an |E| alternating with |(cursive beta)|, and an |E| that does not alternate with any stressed vowel. The same holds for the mid-back vowel series. In addition, pre-tonic |EO| are realized as mid-high vowels (their average F1 values indicate that they are slightly higher than stressed |eo|), while post-tonic |EO| are realized as mid-low vowels (their average F1 values indicate that they are very similar to stressed |(cursive beta)(open oh)|). In neither case is a significant centralization effect observed. Finer grain distinctions between pre and post-tonic |EO| in different contexts will be examined further.