Italy captain Sergio Parisse believes his team's performance away to Wales in Cardiff last weekend was one of their best ever.
The Azzurri made the champions work for their 23-15 win, matching them with two tries scored by impressive centre Michele Campagnaro.
Parisse added that the match was up their with Italy's performance against England at Twickenham last year, with the scoreline in that one finishing 18-11.
"That was certainly one the best away matches we have played in the Six Nations, as was the one we played against England in 2013," said Parisse.
"Twickenham and Cardiff are two very tough difficult venues against two very tough opponents. The way we played here sets the standard for how we expect to perform away from home.
"Before this match, we were really worried about the expectations of the young players in our backline as we conceded a lot of tries in the November Tests. We are happy with the performance over the full 80 minutes, although a loss is a loss so we're not happy about the result.
"The referee penalised our scrum in the last few minutes when we were going forward and that gave Wales the chance to go eight points up. We were really frustrated with that.
"I'm really proud but we mustn't just think that we've played a good game and that next week in France will be easier - it won't - and we must keep working and keep building for the tournament."
Italy's selection this year is focused on bringing through younger players like Campagnaro and also fly-half Tomasso Allan, with Parisse praising the latter for his impact in what was his first Six Nations match.
"For a young man, coming to the Millennium Stadium to face Wales is not an easy place to play. But he performed well. He tried to put some speed into our backline," added Parisse.
"He had a lot of young backs around him as well so that wasn't easy for him. But he produced a really good display and matches like that will give him lots of experience for the rest of his career.
"I hope that he can be the next fly half for Italy for a number of years to come. I expect him to stay and kick on, that is the idea. I think the coach gave him a good chance to impress and he took that. The tournament is a long one and he's going to have a lot of chances to show his potential."