Foreign investors' holdings of Italian government bonds rose strongly in February from the previous month, central bank data showed on Thursday.

In its monthly balance of payments publication, the Bank of Italy said foreigners had increased their exposure to the country's government bonds by 21.6 billion euros ($23.06 billion) in February, after buying a net 4.7 billion euros in the previous month. ($1 = 0.9368 euros) (Reporting by Sara Rossi, editing by Gianluca Semeraro)