Fognini made a nervy start to the match and never really looked in contention despite a slightly more competitive second set.
Nadal was on court for exactly an hour as he booked his place in the third round, where he will face Philipp Kohlschreiber, the German equally comfortable in his 6-4 6-1 win over Albert Ramos.
The world number five, defending the title he won over Novak Djokovic 12 months ago, broke to love in the opening game before also adding a second break in the fifth and breaking again in the seventh to seal the first set in double quick time.
Fognini also dropped his opening service game of the second set but managed to secure an immediate break back, with a stunning backhand return of serve, when Nadal suffered a minor blip in concentration.
But it was only a temporary comeback for the Italian as Nadal forced his way in front again in the sixth game before serving out to love, Fognini netting a backhand return.Fourth seed David Ferrer had a much tougher time of it as he looked to book his place in the last 16, being forced to recover from a set down against compatriot Fernando Verdasco.
Verdasco, looking much more like the top 10 player he used to be rather than the one that he seen him currently slide to 53 in the world, went ahead early in the match before being pegged back by Ferrer.
But the world number four was unable to contain Verdasco and it was the 29-year-old who eventually took the first set, breaking in the 12th game.
Verdasco also went ahead an early break in the second set but again Ferrer reeled him back in and this time it was the fourth seed who broke in the 12th game to take the set.
The early stages of the final set went with serve but in the end Ferrer’s superior consistency won out, the 31-year-old breaking in the eighth game before serving out to book a clash with qualifier Ernests Gulbis.
Gulbis managed to maintain his concentration despite a John McEnroe-esqe meltdown by Victor Troicki that saw the Serb drag a cameraman over to a mark in a bid to prove that a forehand of his, called out, was actually in.
Unsurprisingly the move failed to change the umpire’s mind and Gulbis went on to record a 6-1 6-1 victory.
In other matches, world number eight Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was far from his best as he suffered a 6-4 7-6(5) loss at the hands of mercurial Pole Jerzy Janowicz, while 16th seed Kei Nishikori was unable to get anywhere close to the kind of form that saw him beat Roger Federer last week in Madrid, crashing out of the tournament 6-4 6-1 at the hands of Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
Second round results
5-Rafael Nadal (Spain) beat Fabio Fognini (Italy) 6-1 6-3
Ernests Gulbis (Latvia) beat Viktor Troicki (Serbia) 6-1 6-1
4-David Ferrer (Spain) beat Fernando Verdasco (Spain) 5-7 7-5 6-3
Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) beat Albert Ramos (Spain) 6-4 6-1
Jeremy Chardy (France) beat 16-Kei Nishikori (Japan) 6-4 6-1
Marcel Granollers (Spain) beat 3-Andy Murray (Britain) 6-3 6-7(5) 0-0 (ret)
Benoit Paire (France) beat Julien Benneteau (France) 6-7(3) 6-4 7-6(4)
Gilles Simon (France) beat Mikhail Youzhny (Russia) 7-5 6-3
Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukraine) beat 15-Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland)WO
Jerzy Janowicz (Poland) beat 8-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) 6-4 7-6(5)