Pistelli is seen as the “most probable” choice to take over from Mogherini when she starts her new post in Brussels on November 1st, Il Messaggero reported.
But Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is keeping his cards close to his chest, stating that there is ample time to decide on who will be Italy’s new foreign minister.
Speculation has also been raised that Italy’s current defence minister, Roberta Pinotti, could be moved into the position.
While a promotion for Pistelli may seem the likely option, the decision would shift the government’s gender balance which – along with youth – was a hallmark of Renzi’s cabinet. At 50, Pistelli is nine years older than Mogherini but younger than 53-year-old Pinotti.
Sandro Gozi, under secretary for EU affairs, and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano are also in the running, Rai News reported.
Following her appointment Mogherini said she was ready for the challenge and dismissed the suggestion that she was too young for the post.
"If I'm not wrong I'll be the youngest in the [European] Commission…I have various types of experience, political and institutional. Personally for 20 years, since 1994, I've worked exclusively on European and international issues. This is my field," she told Corriere della Sera.
Having been described as being too pro-Russian to take on the EU job, Mogherini on Monday criticized Moscow for its "military aggression" and "provocation" in eastern Ukraine.
"The Kremlin is acting against the interests of its people," she said, stating that there is no alternative to diplomacy to end the current conflict.
Mogherini is congratulated by outgoing European Council President Herman van Rompuy. Photo: John Thys/AFP