The Dark Blues' faint title hopes were extinguished with defeat to Ireland last week but they will be keen to propel themselves up the table with victory against the tournament's whipping boys after wins against France and England.
Wing Tommy Seymour returns from injury to replace Blair Kinghorn in Rome on Saturday, while centre Nick Grigg makes his first championship start as he takes the place of Pete Horne, whose blunder put Ireland on their way to victory in Dublin.
Townsend has made three further changes to the pack, with hooker Fraser Brown, prop Willem Nel and lock Tim Swinson all promoted from the bench in place of Stuart McInally, Simon Berghan and Grant Gilchrist.
Lock Richie Gray and prop Zander Fagerson could also make their first appearances of the campaign, having shrugged off injuries to be named among the substitutes.
"There were a number of positives in how we took the game to Ireland in attack and defence but this didn't lead to us scoring enough points to win the game," said Townsend.
"We've been pleased with how the players have responded to last week's disappointment, with the energy they have brought to training and a determination to improve our performance in our final match."
"Playing Italy will be a very tough game -- it always has been for any Scotland side," he added. "We are ready for the challenge and have an experienced group of players working hard to finish our campaign with a positive performance and result."