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."
The 2017 RBS 6 Nations was watched by record numbers of fans
29 March 2017, 12:25pm
After an enthralling RBS 6 Nations Championship of twists, turns, and no small amount of drama on the last day, figures show the RBS 6 Nations is going from strength to strength, year on year, with no sign of slowing down.