Alun Wyn Jones, who last captained Wales against the Azzurri in 2009, will lead an experienced Wales. The Ospreys skipper will line-up in the second-row with Perpignan's Luke Charteris as Wales look to create history by becoming the first side to win the tournament outright three times in succession.
"We are looking for a good start, we started slowly last year and know we need to be ready from the off," said Warren Gatland.
"Italy started last year's tournament with a win over France so they will be ready on Saturday and we need to start well and build confidence and momentum.
"It's a strong, experienced side, but there was a lot of discussion about the selection which is a great position to be in as a coach.
"We've almost everyone fit for selection which is pretty rare. Alun-Wyn will lead the side with Sam starting on the bench and he has come through training well."
Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Alun Wyn Jones (CAPT - Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Andrew Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan), Liam Williams (Scarlets).