Italy captain Sergio Parisse will miss Saturday's Six Nations match against Ireland because of a leg injury.
Robert Barbieri comes in for the number eight, who is being rested in the hope he will have recovered in time for the home fixture with England on 15 March.
Veteran lock Marco Bortolami will lead the winless Italians.
Prop Martin Castrogiovanni, currently tied with Parisse as Italy's most capped player, will set a new record when he makes his 105th appearance.
Blind-side flanker Alessandro Zanni will also be missing from the Italian line-up.
"We've got five back row players out injured, so we have to adapt," said head coach Jacques Brunel on Thursday.
Bortolami, a former Italy captain, joins Paul Derbyshire and Luciano Orquera in being promoted to the starting XV, with all three having all been replacements against Scotland.
Derbyshire replaces injured flanker Alessandro Zanni, who sustained a knee injury in Italy's 21-20 loss to Scotland in Rome two weeks ago.
Tito Tebaldi returns to the Italy team for the first time since June 2012 and will start at scrum-half.
Prop Michele Rizzo is included among the replacements after serving a three-week suspension for head-butting an opponent.
Treviso flanker Manoa Vosawai and London Wasps centre Andrea Masi also make the bench.
The Italians go into the game seeking their first win in the competition after three defeats.
They have not beaten Ireland in Dublin since a 37-29 victory in January 1997.
Italy: L McLean; A Esposito, M Campagnaro, G Garcia, L Sarto; L Orquera, T Tebaldi; A De Marchi, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni, Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami, J Furno, P Derbyshire, R Barbieri.
Replacements: D Giazzon, M Rizzo, L Cittadini, A Pavanello, M Vosawai, E Gori, T Allan, A Masi.