A second half fightback saw Scotland come from 14 points down against the Irish before conceding a late penalty which Johnny Sexton converted for a 27-24 win.
It was the second straight defeat for Townsend’s side, after an even closer loss to Wales, following an opening weekend victory over England to claim the Calcutta Cup.
Opponents Italy have a minus 148 points difference from their four defeats so far in this year’s championships - and Scotland will be looking to worsen that statistic when the two nations meet.
Scotland have won the last nine encounters with Italy.
When does Scotland vs Italy take place?
Scotland’s Six Nations rugby match against Italy will take place on Saturday 20 March.
As it was initially intended to be the final round of games, all three fixtures will take place at structured times on the same day with Ireland vs England and France vs Wales also scheduled.
What time does Scotland vs Italy kick off?
The Scotland v Italy rugby match will kick off at 2.15pm on 20 March.
It is the first of three matches to be played on the same day of the 2021 Six Nations championships, with Ireland v England kicking off at 4.45pm and Wales v France at 8pm.
Where is Scotland vs Italy being played?
The Six Nations fixture of Scotland vs Italy will take place at BT Murrayfield, in Edinburgh.
Elsewhere, Ireland vs England will take place at the Aviva Stadium, in Dublin, and grand slam chasers Wales will visit the Stade de France, just outside of Paris, to take on Les Bleus.
What TV channel is Scotland vs Italy on?
The Six Nations rugby match between Scotland and Italy will be aired live on BBC One.
All of the 2021 championships has been screened on terrestrial television, with coverage split between BBC and ITV over the five rounds of fixtures.
England’s game against Ireland is on ITV before France vs Wales is shown on BBC.
What time does TV courage of Scotland vs Italy start?
BBC’s TV coverage of the Six Nations championships match between Scotland and Italy starts at 1.45pm - 30 minutes before kick off time - on 20 March 2021.
ITV’s coverage of Ireland taking on England will begin at 4pm ahead of a 4.45pm kick off before rugby fans return to the BBC at 7.15pm for the run up to France against Wales.
Who are the pundits for Scotland vs Italy?
The BBC has confirmed that former Scotland international John Barclay will be in the studio alongside British and Irish Lions player Jeremy Guscott.
Match commentary will come from Andrew Cotter, Brian Moore and Andy Nicol.
How can I live stream Scotland vs Italy?
The Six Nations 2021 match between Scotland and Italy will be available to watch through the BBC Sport app, website and iPlayer.
What are the latest odds on Scotland vs Italy?
Scotland are the overwhelming favourites to see off Italy when the two nations go toe-to-toe in Six Nations 2021 action at BT Murrayfield on Saturday 20 March.
As of 17 March, online bookies have odds ranging from 1/25 with SBK, 1/33 with WilliamHill, 1/66 with Bet365, to 1/80 with BetFair, and 1/100 with PaddyPower and BetWay.
If you are prepared to take a punt on Italy then BetFair and SBK are offering odds of 25/1, PaddyPower 22/1 and SkyBet and BetWay at 20/1.
Even less likely is a draw result, with odds of 100/1 being offered from PaddyPower, BetFair and BoyleSports according to oddschecker.com.