The European champions were by far and away the better side and dominated for long spells in the second half against the Italians, but as temperatures surpassed 33 degrees, they struggled to break down their rugged opponents.
But they finally made the breakthrough on 70 minutes when Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema rose highest from a Sherida Spitse free-kick, before defender Stefanie van der Gragt completed the win with another header from a Spitse set-play.
The Dutch will face the winners of Saturday’s other quarter-final between Germany and Sweden in Rennes.
More to follow
Holland have reached the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time in their history
Barcelona defender Stefanie van der Gragt completed the victory with a towering header
The win was more than deserved for the Dutch who controlled the match after the interval
Italy: Giuliani, Guagni, Gama, Linari, Bartoli (Boattin 46), Bergamaschi (Serturini 75), Galli, Giugliano, Cernoia, Giacinti, Bonansea (Sabatino 55).
Subs not used: Marchitelli, Rosucci, Parisi, Girelli, Tarenzi, Fusetti, Mauro, Tucceri, Pipitone.
Holland: Van Veenendaal, Van Lunteren, van der Gragt (Dekker 87), Bloodworth, van Dongen, Groenen, van de Donk, Spitse, van de Sanden (Beerensteyn 56), Miedema (Roord 87), Martens.
Subs not used: Kop, Van Es, Pelova, Renate Jansen, Kaagman, Ellen Jansen, Kerkdijk, van der Most, Geurts.
Goals: Miedema 70, van der Gragt 80.
Referee: Claudia Umpierrez (Uruguay)
But it took until deep into the second half before they finally broke down their opponents Italy
Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema finally settled the nerves with a header on 70 minutes
Sherida Spitse set up both goals with two brilliant whipped free-kicks to help the Dutch win
Italy forward Valentina Bergamaschi is tackled by Danielle van de Donk during the first half
Temperatures in excess of 33 degrees in Valenciennes meant water breaks were required