Italy coach John Kirwan is delighted his players competed on equal terms with Ireland on Sunday - but warned the good work must continue.
The Azzurri were beaten 28-17 in their RBS 6 Nations Championship opener in Rome but their outstanding display proved they have taken significant strides forward since entering the competition in 2000.
"I think every team in the Six Nations has made improvements going into the tournament," said the former All Black winger.
"Our goal is to match every side we face and against Ireland we showed we could do that. But the most important thing is we that build on that performance when we play Wales on Saturday."
Italy's half-backs had a mixed afternoon - recalled veteran Alessandro Troncon looked close to his best but outside-half Luciano Orquera endured an off-day with the boot.
Kirwan said: "I was very happy with Troncon. He had an incredible game - he was very
good in attack and defence.
"Orquera's kicking was off but he showed great courage in defence. He also followed the game plan. We have to give him confidence because he has the capability to do well.''
Meanwhile, Italy's team doctor Gianluca Melegati has reported a clean bill of health for the Azzurri squad following Sunday's defeat.
"After a hard game like Sunday's, it is difficult for everything to be perfect," said the Italy medical chief.
"But our players are in great shape after the match against the Irish and I'm sure they will be more in form than ever against Wales."
After losing their Under-20s Six Nations crown to England Under-20s in a thrilling final round, France Under-20s lock Tristan Labouteley insists his side will be out for revenge at this year's Junior World Championship.