The 40-year-old cemented his place in the top 10 with a three-under-par 68 for an eight-under 134 to sit five strokes behind halfway frontrunner Joachim Hansen, who roared into a two-shot lead with a sparkling 62 for 129.
Russell remains on course to move from 22nd on the Challenge Tour money list into the leading 21 that will be rewarded with promotion to the main European circuit at the conclusion of this Italian showdown.
"It was pretty solid again but I struggled with my judgment on some shots," admitted the Scot, who won on the Challenge Tour in Italy back in June. "I struggled to get pin high which was a bit frustrating because I was hitting them right at the flag but just coming up a bit short or a bit long."
Greenock's Chris Doak, safely tucked in at No.10 on the money list and with his European Tour card already secured, made strides up the leaderboard with a purposeful five-under 66 that was aided by an improved performance with the putter.
"It was pretty much the same as the first day but the putts just dropped this time and, hopefully, they will over the last two days," said Doak, who sits in a tie for 15th on 135.
Scott Henry, ninth in the overall rankings, added a three-birdie 68 to his tally for a 138 while Andrew McArthur continues to toil at the foot of the field on 143 after a 71.
At the head of the order, Danish youngster Hansen, one-over after four holes, covered his final 14 in 10-under with a rousing run of birdies that included six in a row from the fifth.