The veteran fly-half, who toured with the Lions back in 2005, scored a second charge-down try in as many weeks to spark an England revival.
Having blocked Dan Parks' attempted clearance to claim the winning try against Scotland seven days ago, Hodgson did the same to Andrea Masi shortly after the visitors had fallen nine points behind at the Stadio Olimpicio.
Buoyed by Hodgson's heroics, England went on to avoid a first-ever defeat to the Italians as Owen Farrell's boot and an impressive togetherness saw them home.
"We knew we had to keep our composure," said Hodgson, who was selected above Toby Flood in the No10 shirt for the second game of the 6 Nations.
"We felt we dominated in the first half but they got a lucky try. We kept plugging away, kept our heads and it came good in the end.
"To comeback from 15-6 down and to be successful in a place like this shows what resolve we have."
Having led 6-0 approaching half-time thanks to two penalties from the unflappable Farrell, England shipped two tries in as many minutes to relinquish their advantage.
Ben Foden's failure to deal with Tommaso Benvenuti's hopeful grubber saw Giovanbattista Venditti claim his first international try on his second appearance before Benvenuti picked off a loose pass from the England full back to race home from 45 metres.
With Kris Burton adding the extras to the second of those scores and then slotting a first penalty shortly after the break, England were in all sorts of trouble against the tournament under dogs.
But Hodgson's hard work started a successful comeback, with Farell converting from out wide and then adding two more penalties in a faultless kicking display.
Italy could have won it had replacement fly-half Tobias Botes not fluffed two kicks at goal after taking over from the departed Burton but England will be delighted with the fighting spirit that sees them sitting pretty with two wins from two under new coach Stuart Lancaster.