Live full-back Ange Capuozzo scored a pair of tries as Italy recorded their first win over Australia with a 28-27 triumph in Florence.
Replacement fly-half Ben Donaldson had a chance to convert a late Australian touchdown for the win, but put his effort off the posts to prompt jubilant celebrations from the Italian players.
Winger Pierre Bruno also scored a try for the hosts, who valued their victory and could have won by a larger margin had they not missed 14 points on penalties and conversions.
Australia scored tries through Tom Wright, Fraser McReight, Tom Robertson and Cadeyrn Neville, but took too many penalties for indiscipline and were poor at their own set pieces in attacking positions.
“It means a lot to the boys, they tried so hard the whole game and we dug deep,” Italy scrum-half Stephen Varney said. “We are building well, we have very good coaches. We are proud to be part of this team and to have great leaders.”
“Capuozzo is an incredible paymaster, he’s been showing up all year and he’s had good performances. I am very happy for him.”
The loss compounded a miserable year for Australia in which they lost eight Tests, adding to the pressure on Dave Rennie ahead of the World Cup in France next year. They face Ireland next Saturday and complete their Autumn series against Wales. Italy hosts South Africa.
The Wallabies came up against a fired-up Italy, much improved since New Zealand-born coach Kieran Crowley took over, and matched their visitors in physical battle and applied pressure from set pieces.
The visitors weren’t precise enough when they had chances to score, particularly as relatively simple penalty kicks were rejected by the offensive lineouts.
Discipline has been the Wallabies’ Achilles’ heel this year and it was again as they committed 16 penalties and received a yellow card for scrum-half Jake Gordon. Italy, leading 17-8 at halftime, scored two of their three attempts while in the sin-bin.
Despite their poor performance, Australia still could have won it when Neville crossed to try after the buzzer, but Donaldson was unable to direct his pressing conversion on goal.