Wales built impressively on their victory over world champions England by reducing Italy to ruins in Rome and confirming their strong RBS 6 Nations title credentials.
Mike Ruddock's team recorded a first away win in the championship since 2001, thrilling their huge contingent of travelling fans at Stadio Flaminio with a scintillating six-try display.
Flankers Jonathan Thomas and man of the match Martyn Williams, locks Brent Cockbain and Robert Sidoli, centre Tom Shanklin and wing Shane Williams all breached the Italian defence, with fly-half Stephen Jones adding four conversions.
Italy's powerful pack briefly threatened to muscle control away from Wales, yet the visitors were in a different class behind the scrum and the Azzurri could not live with their pace or attacking prowess.
Wales easily avenged a 30-22 defeat in Rome two years ago and they will now tackle France in Paris on February 26 with Grand Slam hopes still very much alive.
The visitors blasted out of the blocks, showcasing their exciting running game after just five minutes when Shane Williams ripped Italy's defence apart through a brilliant 60-metre break and set up an irresistible attacking platform from which Thomas prospered, crossing wide out when he collected number eight Michael Owen's floated pass.
Jones converted and Wales were on their way but Italy responded just six minutes later after Henson's kick 40m out was charged down by fly-half Luciano Orquera, who galloped away to score .
Orquera's opportunist effort lifted spirits among the home fans and they received further encouragement when a revered Italian front-five showed signs of dominating, notably props Andrea Lo Cicero and Martin Castrogiovanni at the set-scrums.
Wales endured a testing period either side of Shanklin's score - the Cardiff Blues centre caught Henson's well-placed kick to touch down - and they desperately needed another try before the break as Italy pieced together some threatening phases.
Flanker Williams eased their nerves, taking wing Hal Luscombe's pass with the final act of a helter-skelter opening period and touching down against the post under pressure from three Italian defenders.
Full-back Roland de Marigny reduced the interval arrears from 19-5 by booting a 44th-minute penalty, yet it was a false dawn for Italy and Wales cut loose in breathtaking fashion during the third quarter.
As the game began to open up so Wales ran riot, with Cockbain sprinting clear to score after 54 minutes before skipper Gareth Thomas weaved his way through the Italian defence and Shane Williams scored, helped by stunning support play from Martyn Williams and replacement wing Kevin Morgan.
Sidoli completed the rout, and Ruddock used all seven of his substitutes, such was Wales' second-half dominance, including a Test debut for Cardiff flanker Robin Sowden-Taylor.
Italy: De Marigny, M. Bergamasco, Pozzebon, Masi, Nitoglia, Orquera, Troncon, Lo Cicero, Ongaro, Castrogiovanni, Dellape, Bortolami, Persico, M. Bergamasco, Parisse.
Replacements: Barbini for De Marigny (74), Robertson for Pozzebon (54), Griffen for Troncon (57), Intoppa for Ongaro (68), Perugini for Castrogiovanni (58), Del Fava for Dellape (58), Dal Maso for M. Bergamasco (23).
Tries: Orquera. Pens: De Marigny.
Wales: G. Thomas, Luscombe, Shanklin, Henson, S. Williams, S. Jones, Peel, Jenkins, Davies, A. Jones, Cockbain, Sidoli, J. Thomas, M. Williams, Owen.
Replacements: Morgan for Luscombe (54), Sweeney for S. Jones (61), Cooper for Peel (57), McBryde for Davies (62), Yapp for A. Jones (62), Gough for Cockbain (62), Sowden-Taylor for M. Williams (75).
Tries: J. Thomas, Shanklin, M. Williams, Cockbain, S. Williams, Sidoli. Cons: S. Jones 4.