Muted big-name transfers such as Argentine midfielder Javier Pastore to Inter Milan from Paris Saint-Germain never materialised with Italian clubs spending an estimated €50 million – less than the English second tier.
The figure was half that spent last season and a five-year low, putting Italian football just ninth for money spent during the global transfer market, after the record €1 billion spent by Italy's top clubs during the summer of 2017.
Premier League clubs went on a spending spree with a record £430 million (€492 million) forked out – nearly double the previous record of £225 million, according to accountancy firm Deloitte's.
But Serie A champions Juventus and Roma (both still in the Champions League), Inter Milan, Lazio, AC Milan and Napoli all opted against big money moves.
Inter Milan took Lisandro Lopez from Benfica and Barcelona's Rafinha on loan, with Roma signing defender Jonathan Silva on loan from Sporting Lisbon.
There were two major Italian sales, with Genoa's 16-year-old striker Pietro Pellegri heading for Monaco on a €25-million deal and left-back Emerson Palmieri leaving Roma for Chelsea for €29 million.
"We made the sales we needed to," said Roma sporting director Monchi. "The sale of Emerson, who has played one game, to Chelsea is testament to the quality of the squad."
Napoli's move for Matteo Politano from Serie A rivals Sassuolo fell through at the final hour with Fiorentina trading Senegalese striker Khouma Babacar for Sassuolo's Diego Falcinelli on loan.
Sassuolo were the biggest spenders in Italy with €8 million on 11 purchases, followed by Fiorentina and Cagliari, and Serie B sides Pescara and Brescia.
However, troubled SPAL and Benevento were among the most spendthrift as they hunt Serie A football again next season.
La Liga was just behind the Premier League with €271 million spent, which included Philippe Coutinho's €160-million move from Liverpool to Barcelona.