There are real signs that rugby is beginning to make its mark on the Italian sporting consciousness - and the Azzurri are determined to enhance that process with a victory over struggling Wales.
After securing a draw at the Millennium Stadium last year, Italy finally nailed their first away win since joining the RBS 6 Nations Championship in 2000 with a 37-17 triumph over Scotland at Murrayfield.
The Italian game is in buoyant mood and interest in the game is burgeoning. Victory over Wales would represent the Azzurri's most successful ever campaign in the RBS 6 Nations.
The Italian squad were due to meet the country's minister of sport, Giovanna Melandri, on Thursday.
The good behaviour of supporters at rugby matches has further helped boost interest in the sport given the chronic problems of crowd violence in Italian football.
While some 6,000 fans travelled to Edinburgh, officials believe they could have sold over 40,000 tickets for the Wales game this weekend.
As it is, the 24,591-capacity Flaminio will be a sell-out as Pierre Berbizier's men look to condemn Wales to a fourth straight defeat.
Ramiro Pez returns at fly-half while injuries to wing Andrea Masi and Martin Castrogiovanni have opened the door for Matteo Pratichetti and Carlos Nieto respectively.
Italy's team manager Carlo Checchinato expects Wales to pose the Azzurri their toughest test of the campaign.
Wales have lost all three matches but showed a distinct improvement against France and welcome full-back Kevin Morgan back into an otherwise unchanged starting XV.
And Checchinato said: 'I believe the game against Wales will be for us the hardest of the entire tournament.
'Wales are still chasing the first victory. They haven't played at their best yet, although I saw a great improvement against France in the last round.'
Wales head coach Gareth Jenkins took heart his side's performance in Paris - they led 14-3 after just 15 minutes before France took control - and he expects further improvements against Italy.
'We are looking at getting settled and to getting them playing as a team,' he said.
'This team now is starting to get games behind it and we can take lessons on from each game and take the performance forward.
'On reflection of the France game, there was some good stuff and we want to build on that.
'We need to continue to improve as we work towards the World Cup.'
Morgan returns to the Wales side after making a swift recovery from a fractured jaw suffered only a month ago in the defeat to Scotland.
Jenkins, acutely aware of Italy's strength in the set-piece, reshuffled his replacements and named a complete front row on the bench.
Former captain Gareth Thomas also returns to the 22 after missing the first three games of the RBS 6 Nations championship through suspension.