Davies will win his 70th cap at Stadio Olimpico and becomes Wales’ 137th captain.
He will line up in midfield alongside Owen Watkin with Dan Biggar and Aled Davies named at fly-half and scrum-half respectively.
Liam Williams and Josh Adams, who both started in Paris last week, are joined by Jonah Holmes in the back three with the latter making his first Six Nations appearance.
In the pack Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee and Samson Lee form a new look front-row with Jake Ball coming into the second-row alongside Adam Beard.
In the back-row Josh Navidi moves to number eight, Aaron Wainwright starts at blindside flanker and Thomas Young makes his first Six Nations appearance on the openside.
“We have made a number of changes this weekend but have picked what we think is a very exciting team that still has huge experience throughout it,” said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.
“We have made a similar number of changes to what we did last year, but it is all about opportunity for these players.
“We have had a squad of 31 training together, replicating the Rugby World Cup and it is important they get game-time.
“It is a great opportunity for Jon (Davies) as captain. He has a huge amount of experience, is a great leader and it is a great honour for him to lead his country.
“Italy will be hurting after last weekend but they are a different proposition in Rome. They are an experienced team themselves and they will be looking to put things right on the pitch after their opening defeat.”
Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones and Dillon Lewis are the front-row replacements on the bench with Alun Wyn Jones and Ross Moriarty completing the forward contingent. Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe and Hallam Amos provide Wales’ backline cover.
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Jonathan Davies (c), 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Hallam Amos
Date: Saturday, February 9
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 17:45 local (16:45 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)