Ceri Sweeney kicked nine second-half points to give Cardiff a win which ends their miserable recent run in the RaboDirect PRO12.
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The Welsh side had lost their last four games, but Sweeney's accurate boot enabled them to see off the competition newcomers, who are still seeking their first win.
The Italians led 7-0 lead through Samuele Pace's try midway through the first half, taking advantage of the extra man after Robin Copeland had been sent to the sin-bin.
Within three minutes of Copeland's 12th-minute departure, centre Pace ran through to score a try which was converted by Daniel Halangahu.
Cardiff responded in the 27th minute as prop Nathan Trevett bundled over, although Sweeney was not able to take advantage with the conversion.
The hosts went in with a 7-5 advantage, although the gap would have been five points had Gonzalo Garcia not sliced his penalty wide at the end of the first half.
Cardiff's Mike Paterson came on for Macauley Cook five minutes after the restart for his first appearance of the season, following operations on both shoulders.
The visitors responded well to the return of their player of the year, with Sweeney edging them into an 8-7 lead in the 56th minute.
Although the 32-year-old missed another attempt five minutes later, he kept his nerve with kicks in the 68th and 70th minutes completing the turnaround and lifting the Blues to seventh in the table.