Scotland won a third Six Nations match in the same campaign for the first time since 2006 to send departing coach Vern Cotter out on a high at Murrayfield.
Stuart Hogg’s long-range penalty put the hosts ahead before Finn Russell finished off heavy pressure to score.
Replacement Matt Scott touched down the second for a 15-0 lead, with Italy’s Carlo Canna missing three penalties.
The Azzurri botched two scoring chances before further tries from Tim Visser and Tommy Seymour sealed a bonus point.
Four tries brought Scotland’s tally for the championship to 14, surpassing their record, set last year, of 11 for a Six Nations campaign.
Despite their three victories, the Scots had to settle for a repeat of last year’s fourth-place finish, on points difference, after victories for France against Wales, and Ireland over England.
This was a 12th Six Nations defeat in a row for Italy, who finished with the Wooden Spoon for a 12th time in 18 seasons.
In the Edinburgh rain, mistakes were inevitable but the opening half was an error and penalty-fest, a grind that Scotland slowly but surely took control of.
Italy were a creative desert, a line-out horror-show, a goal-kicking nightmare. They lost four of eight line-outs in the first 40 minutes and missed three out of three kicks at goal. Two of those were straightforward, but Canna made a hash of both.
Scotland were ahead with a booming Hogg penalty, but the hosts had serious problems of their own despite having the lead.
Referee Pascal Gauzere got on their case early and he kept pinging them all day long. The Scots conceded five penalties in the opening 20 minutes, seven in the first 40 and a stratospheric 12 by the early minutes of the second half.
Of course, they also had a healthy lead by then. The first came at the end of mountainous pressure, Ali Price eventually put Russell over in the corner. The downside was that they lost Huw Jones to injury in the creation of the score, Scott replacing him.
Unlike poor Canna, Russell’s kick was good and Scotland were ahead 10-0. Canna missed a second sitter and, soon after, Scotland had a second try when Price chipped over the top close to the Italian line for Hogg to win the aerial dual against Giovanbattista Venditti and bat the ball back into Scott’s path. The centre had the easiest job in dotting it down.
Scotland had battled their way into the lead with the knowledge that Italy’s second-half performances have been a calamity in this Six Nations. Before this game they conceded 70% of their points in the second half and an average of 20 points in the last 20 minutes of the second half.
It was Italy who came back strong, though. They camped themselves in the Scottish 22, forced Hogg into making a try-saver on Angelo Esposito, then went again. They won penalty after penalty. John Barclay disappeared to the bin and they won more penalties after that.
When it looked like they were about to break through, Edoardo Padovani knocked on with the line at his mercy. It was painful stuff for the visitors. They were undone by Scotland’s defence, yes, but mostly by their own lack of wit. Italy had a chronic lack of imagination and accuracy.
Just after the hour, Scotland got their third try when Hogg scampered up the left wing, chipped ahead and Visser got the touchdown. Russell’s conversion made it 22-0. For them, it was all about the four-try bonus point now.
Scotland started to hit their stride and the crucial fourth try came after multiple phases drained the life out of the tiring Italians, Russell’s lovely hands finding Hogg who put Seymour over. Once again Russell, kicking beautifully, was successful with the conversion.
Job done for Scotland. A third win in a championship that has seen them score more points (122) and more tries than they have ever done in the Six Nations. A decent farewell to Cotter, a man who has done so much to take the Scots from despair to hope.
Scotland : 15-Hogg; 14-Seymour, 13-Jones, 12-Dunbar, 11-Visser; 10-Russell, 9-Price; 1-Reid, 2-Ford, 3-Fagerson; 4-Gilchrist, 5-J Gray; 6-Barclay (captain), 7-Watson, 8-Wilson.
Replacements : 16-Brown (for Ford, 66), 17-Dell (for Reid, 56), 17-Berghan (for Fagerson, 66), 18-Du Preez (for Wilson, 49), 19-Swinson (for Gilchrist, 57), 20-Pyrgos (for Price, 54), 22-Weir (for Scott, 73), 23-Scott (for Jones, 26).
Yellow card : Barclay (49)
Italy : 15-Padovani; 14-Esposito, 13-Benvenuti, 12-McLean, 11-Venditti; 10-Canna, 9-Gori; 1-Lovotti, 2-Gega, 3-Cittadini, 4-Fuser, 5-Biagi, 6-Mbanda, 7-Steyn, 8-Parisse.
Replacements : 16-Ghiraldini (for Gega, 41), 17-Panico (for Lovotti, 63), 18-Chistolini (for Cittadini, 41), 19-Van Schalkwyk (for Fuser, 54), 20-Ruzza (for Biagi, 75), 21-Minto (for Mbanda, 54), 22-Violi (for Gori, 54), 23-Sperandio (for Canna, 63).
- Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
- Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales) & Luke Pearce (England)
- TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)