The 27-year-old takes over from Richie McCaw, who has been granted a rest after playing in the tour opener against Scotland last week.
Read is expected to assume the captaincy next year when McCaw takes a six-month break from playing.
The Crusaders number eight will have a strong side to work with with Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith set to be unleashed against the Azzurri.
Coach Steve Hansen has already made good on his promise - to give all members of the 32-man squad playing time - after making a total of 14 changes to the side that triumphed 51-22 at Murrayfield. Winger Julian Savea is the only player to make consecutive starts on tour.
"We were happy with our performance last weekend against Scotland but also knew there were areas for improvement ahead of the Italian Test and we have been working on getting that right this week," said Hansen.
"The team last week put a stake in the ground, and while the performance was nowhere near perfect, there was some quality rugby played. There is now an opportunity for this group to build on that."
Aaron Smith's selection at halfback - to provide service for fly-half Aaron Cruden - promises to add an element of pace to the All Blacks attack, while Beauden Barrett adds another playmaking option from fullback in the absence of the injured Israel Dagg.
In the reserves, hooker Dane Coles and halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow are in line to double their Test caps after debuting in Scotland.
Dan Carter adds 93 Tests of experience to a bench that features fellow Cantrabrians Ben Franks and Sam Whitelock.
All Blacks: Beauden Barrett; Hosea Gear, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith; Tony Woodcock,
Keven Mealamu, Charlie Faumuina, Ali Williams, Brodie Retallick, Liam Messam, Same Cane, Kieran Read (captain).
Reserves: Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Samuel Whitelock, Victor Vito, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Dan Carter, Cory Jane.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.