The popular hooker had been on the replacements’ bench in recent fixtures – but is due to win his 107th cap from the beginning against the Azzurri at Murrayfield.
He replaces Fraser Brown, who was yellow-carded in the opening 90 seconds of the Twickenham clash for a dangerous tip tackle on Elliot Daly and drops back to the bench.
Ford has been handed his first start of the championship by head coach Vern Cotter, who is taking charge of the Scottish side for the last time. The Borders forward played for most of the second half against England and was involved in the move which led to the first of Huw Jones’ two tries for Scotland.
The Scots, victorious against Ireland and Wales, could finish as runners-up to England for the first time since the championship was extended to six teams in 2000. They are determined to give a better account of themselves against the Italians, who have lost all four of their games so far.
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Ford’s inclusion is the only change to the starting line-up which was comprehensively beaten by England with a record-equalling 61-21 scoreline.
Fellow Borders players Stuart Hogg, formerly of Hawick, returns at full back after being forced off with a head injury against the English, while ex- Selkirk player Alex Dunbar, a try scorer against Ireland, is back at centre.
The only other change to the match-day squad sees Matt Scott go back to the bench to replace Mark Bennett, who lasted only a couple of minutes as a first-half replacement against England before being injured.