If you can edit the Word file prior to importing the file into INDD, do the following in Word. Create a character style named "italic". It doesn't even matter what you put into the char style, just remeber the exact way you named the style.
Use the F&C function from Word to find all italics and replace it with the created char style.
In Indesign, create a char style with the exact same name as the one from Word. Make sure the properties are correct.
Now import the file, if all went well, the italics should be ok now.
Thanks for answering. Unfortunately I don't have Word, only the ability to turn a Pages document into a .docx using Scrivener.
I finally got it to work, though it still makes no sense. I converted the file to Times New Roman, and placing it changed the italics to Minion Pro. For some reason then I could make those italicized, and then changed the rest of the document to Minion Pro as well. No clue why changing the font made it possible but at least I will not be completely bald.
ok, than you have to try the script found here:
or look for the script preptext.jsx
Both work great for transforming italics (and other things) to char styles directly in Indesign (to be used before formatting the text)