Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had predicted a profit well below the 64.4 percent increase of €363 million.
Income before tax from continuing operations rose 22.5 percent to €953 million despite the lender's "rigorous and conservative" provisioning policy.
The result marks a huge turnaround from 2013, when Intesa Sanpaolo reported a net loss of €4.55 billion after huge asset writedowns.
In 2014 "profitability targets will be combined with close attention to the profile of risk and liquidity, as well as with the group's excellent capital position," the bank said in its earnings statement.
Net interest income for the quarter came to €2.1 billion, a 4.1-percent increase from €2.02 billion before.
The bank operating margin was down slightly at €2.02 billion – 0.1 percent lower than in 2013.