I don't think I actually knew what Italo disco was until a month or two ago
I had heard the term a bunch and seen it on fliers, but that was it. Then I read a review calling my favorite song on Felix Da Housecat's new Devin Dazzle and the Neon Fever - "Ready 2 Wear" - an "instant Italo classic" and my interest was piqued. It's like a harder edged, dancier New Wave or alternatively, a New Wavey disco, that was big in Europe (and mainly Italy) around 1982-84, but never got much attention in the U.S.
I checked out this compilation I-Robots: Italo Electro Disco Underground Classics over the weekend, and it seems a good primer to the genre. Only a couple tracks have vocals - most notably the excellent opener "Spacer Woman" by Charlie - and as with the Felix tune, it seems the right vocals really make the Italo sound shine. It's all a pretty compelling listen though - poppy melodies, disco beats, and lots of great synth sounds and production. It's amazing how much the current 80's/electro revival references this stuff. The compilation as a whole is an exhausting listen (almost 80 minutes) and a bit hit-or-miss, but worth checking out if you dig the sound.
Incidentally, Alexander Robotnick - considered one of the seminal Italo producers - is performing tonight at the Tribeca Grand. Robotnick had never performed in the U.S. before last Thursday, at the Coral Room. Word is that show was "incredibly fun" and I imagine tonight will be the same. JDH and Ulysses are also on the bill.