Former France captain and coach Pierre Berbizier has been named Italy coach.
The Italian Rugby Federation made the decision after rescinding the contract of John Kirwan following their poor showing in the Six Nations.
"I believe we have signed one of the best coaches in Europe," said FIR president Giancarlo Dondi.
"We see in him the right person to lead the Azzurri. He is a coach with great experience and a strong personality."
Berbizier, 46, won 56 caps for France and led them to two Five Nations Grand Slams, in 1981 and 1987.
He also coached the side to the 1995 World Cup semi-finals.
He was sacked after falling out with French Federation president Bernard Lapasset.
Since his last coaching post, at Narbonne in 2001, Berbizier has worked as a television pundit.
Kirwan, who took over from fellow Kiwi Brad Johnstone in 2002 and had been contracted to lead them through to the 2007 World Cup, before his sacking.
Berbizier, who will be officially unveiled on 26 April, has signed a contract which takes him up until after the 2007 tournament, which will be staged in France.
"It is important for us to have a long-term manager, especially for our ambitions," said Dondi.
"The FIR believes Berbizier will improve our gameplay and hopefully more and more victories will arrive, starting from the next Six Nations."