Nelson will be hometown for Italy and their supporters for three weeks of the pool phase of the World Cup.

Coach John Kirwan and his team are due to settle into the city a full week before the tournament opens. They will travel to Christchurch for their opening match against Australia on the first weekend of the cup but return to Nelson for the rest of the month, playing their next two games at Trafalgar Park against Russia and the United States.

The Italians are set to receive a particularly warm welcome from Nelson's long-established Italian community, many of whose ancestors migrated a century ago to grow tomatoes in the mild Mediterranean climate.

An Italian connection of a different sort will be forged while they are there. They will attend the opening of a long-overdue memorial to Nelson members of the Maori Battalion who fought in Italy during World War II.

Susan Coleman, Nelson regional director for RWC2011, says many of the battalion came back speaking fluent Italian. The memorial will take the form of a plaque in a wahora (arched gateway) to be built in the city's Anzac Park.

The team are expected to hold some open training sessions at Saxton cricket ground and local schools will be allowed to attend.

By the time the team head off to play the Wallabies, they should have Nelson behind them and when they return to face Russia and the Americans they should have a "hometown" advantage.

Before Italy's match with Russia, on September 20, Nelson will stage a re-enactment of the first game of rugby in the town in 1870. Teams from Nelson Rugby Club and Nelson College will play in the uniforms of the day under the rules of that time.

The game will be held at The Botanics sportsground, finishing in plenty of time for ticketholders to walk to Trafalgar Park for the cup match.

When Italy play the US a week later they will not be the only side with some local support. The US squad includes a Nelson player, Junior Sifa of Richmond, who has American parentage.

He represented Nelson Bays in 2005 and Tasman in 2006 before playing professionally in Ireland until last year. His partner is also from Nelson and their families should ensure the US team also have plenty of support at the match on September 27.

At some stage during their stay the Italian team will taste the delights of the wider region, travelling to Abel Tasman National Park for walking, kayaking and other "adventure" activities.

The hosts are reckoning on about 14,000 out-of-town visitors for the cup. About 1200 Italians will be among the 4000 international guests. Between matches they will be able to enjoy a festival of Nelson's food, wine, arts and crafts organised for the event.