Ireland's Simon Easterby goes through for Ireland's second try
Italy (12) 24
Tries: Bortolami, De Marigny.
Pens: Pez (2)
Drop goals: Pez (2)
Ireland (20) 51
Tries: Dempsey (2), Easterby, D'Arcy, Horgan, Hickie (2), O'Gara
Cons: O'Gara (4)
Ireland ran in eight tries but it was not enough as they lost the Six Nations title on points difference to France.
Ireland scored first-half tries through Girvan Dempsey, Simon Easterby and Gordon D'Arcy but led by just eight as Ramiro Pez kicked 12 points for Italy.
More Irish tries followed from Dempsey, Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie (2) and Ronan O'Gara with Marco Bortolami and Roland De Marigny scoring for Italy.
De Marigny's stoppage-time try, it turned out, cost Ireland the crown.
It was the powerful performance Irish coach Eddie O'Sullivan was looking for against an Italian side buoyed by their best-ever Six Nations campaign.
Italy were well in touch in the first half thanks to the left boot of Bayonne fly-half Pez.
After O'Gara opened with a penalty, Pez levelled with a drop-goal and then added a penalty of his own to give Italy a 6-3 lead.
Dempsey then got the opening try in the left corner after good build-up involving D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll with 16 minutes played.
Five minutes later Horgan set Llanelli Scarlets blind-side Easterby up for Ireland's second try.
Another penalty and drop-goal from Pez cut the gap to just one point before Ireland scored a controversial third try with the final move of the half.
Hickie's scoring pass to D'Arcy was clearly forward but the Leinster centre was allowed to go on and score.
Ireland's 27-point winning margin was not enough
Four tries in 13 minutes early in the second half had Ireland in command and the championship clearly in sight.
Dempsey charged through a large gap and over the line, with O'Gara adding the conversion.
The flood-gates had opened as Ireland ran in their fifth try with Hickie slicing through Italy's midfield and picking out Horgan who raced home unchallenged.
Hickie crossed himself following a crafty dummy and then O'Gara was over, chasing a kick after D'Arcy had broken from his own half.
The score was tarnished by a hamstring injury to O'Driscoll, however, with the Lions centre unable to walk as he was helped from the pitch.
Bortolami got Italy's first try on 74 minutes but Ireland replied with Hickie's second try.
However, a stoppage-time touchdown by De Marigny in the corner took some gloss off the Irish triumph and ultimately cost O'Sullivan's men the title.
Italy: De Marigny, Robertson, Galon, Mirco Bergamasco, Pratichetti, Pez, Troncon, Perugini, Festuccia, Nieto, Dellape, Bortolami, Zaffiri, Zanni, Parisse.
Replacements: Barbini for Galon (63), Scanavacca for Pez (40), Griffen for Troncon (80), Staibano for Perugini (53), Ghiraldini for Festuccia (80), Sole for Zaffiri (3), Bernabo for Parisse (66).
Ireland: Dempsey; Horgan, B O'Driscoll (capt), D'Arcy, Hickie; O'Gara, Stringer; Horan, R Best, Hayes, O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll, S Easterby, D Wallace, Leamy.
Replacements: Trimble for B. O'Driscoll (60), S. Best for Horan (66), Flannery for R. Best (61), Hogan for M. O'Driscoll (54).
Referee: J Kaplan (South Africa).