Drawn in Group C of the qualifying groups, Italy were heavy favourites to reach the finals in Poland and Ukraine.
In the event they went unbeaten across 10 matches, winning eight of them, to finish 10 points clear of second-placed Estonia.
Rioting Serbia fans caused their match against Italy to be called off after just six minutes and it was subsequently awarded to Italy as a 3-0 win.
In friendly matches since the ill-fated 2010 World Cup, Italy also boast a victory over group rivals Spain, but lost their last match at home to the USA 1-0.
A recent friendly against Luxembourg was called off due to an earthquake in the area.