Italy got off to a good start and immediately threatened the visitors, with Mario Balotelli dragging an early shot wide before a freekick in prime Andrea Pirlo territory was put just over the bar by the veteran midfielder.
Despite that strong start from the hosts, it was Germany who broke the deadlock from a set-piece. Toni Kroos' corner was whipped in with expert precision to find Mats Hummels, and the Dortmund defender headed it home to put Italy's record at the San Siro in peril.
The goal shocked Italy and inspired Germany, and the visitors almost made it two just after, with Benedikt Howedes also going close from a corner before Gianluigi Buffon pulled off a truly world-class save to deny Sami Khedira, whose long-range effort appeared to be arrowing into the top corner before the Juventus legend's intervention.
That allowed Italy to get back into the game, and a superb move soon saw them level the scoreline, as Ignazio Abate exchanged passes with Leonardo Bonucci to carve open the German defense and put a left-footed shot past Manuel Neuer to equalize.
The rest of the first half saw no real openings for either side, but after the break, Italy went close to taking the lead thanks to a feigned freekick from Pirlo. Instead of shooting, he found his club teammate Claudio Marchisio lurking down the left channel, but his fierce drive was well saved by Neuer.
Pablo Osvaldo had been as disappointing for the Azzurri as he has been for Southampton this year, and was the first man to make way as both sides made changes. Italy appeared to have the advantage, but Germany were still looking dangerous on the counter, most notably when Mesut Ozil tried to play in Thomas Muller, only for the ball to bounce of his heels and allow Italy to clear.
An argument then broke out between Thiago Motta and Toni Kroos and the former was lucky not to be sent off as he thrust a finger into the Bayern man's face, only for both to pick up yellow cards. That proved to be the last encounter of the game -- a better result for Italy, despite their home-advantage, as they showed their squad can compete with the best in the game.
Italy: Buffon, Abate, Bonucci, Barzagli, Criscito, Marchisio, Pirlo, Thiago Motta, Montolivo, Balotelli, Osvaldo.
Goals: Ignazio Abate, 28'
Germany: Neuer, Höwedes, Boateng, Hummels, Jansen, Khedira (Bender 67'), Lahm, Müller, Kroos, Schürrle, Götze.
Goals: Mats Hummels, 8'