The driving rain did not provide a suitable stage for attractive rugby, but still the home side let slip a number of chances to put a sizeable total on the board with uncharacteristic handling errors.
Nonetheless, De Villiers was generally happy with the efforts of his much-changed side as they backed up their 2-0 series whitewash of Wales to continue a winning preparation ahead of next month's Tri-Nations.
"Nobody sent me a message about how they would like to win, so I hope everyone's happy," said De Villiers.
"I said before the game that we would take any win, no matter how ugly it would be. I think South Africans like to win, and we're keeping them pretty happy at this stage.
"We did well today in the wet weather, looking after our line-out ball, and we did well in the driving mauls.
"Italy are one of the best teams in the 6 Nations in terms of driving from the line-out."
Victory ensured de Villiers maintained a perfect record from three games in charge of the Springboks, but the 51-year-old coach still believes there is room for improvement.
"I think we played a little too conservatively," he said. "We let roughly four tries slip through our fingers.
"I also think our scrum was indifferent, but we played against people on the other side that also came at us with a big challenge. I think the fact that we were prepared to absorb that challenge will give us a good base going forward."
South Africa begin their Tri-Nations campaign with a three-match tour of New Zealand and Australia, kicking off against the All Blacks in Wellington on July 5.