Italians have FU Arba which is nothing special. for sure, it’s not enough to classify them as an “archer civ”. Yes, they do have Pavise, but they are missing Halb upgrade, which is a staple to archer civs, forcing them to counter mass Knights with Genoese Crossbowman which is a very awkward unit that you must produce from Castles, costs a ton and overall sucks vs everything except cavalry (vs which it’s not great, either, unless you have BIG numbers which is a ton of resources invested and also gets bottlenecked by how few Castles you can afford early on).
If you think they have “good Knights”, you are also mistaken, unless you believe that Spanish are a good civ, Italians are probably not great, either. Having FU Cavalier is nothing special, compare to like Britons (a VERY good Archer civ), the only thing you have over them is Bloodlines. Bloodlines is a good upgrade, but not enough to make you a cavalry civ. Meanwhile, Britons have TWO eco bonuses (sheep and TCs) vs the 0 of Italians. Italians on land maps advance ages faster, in Dark Age that’s like 50f, in Feudal it’s like 80f 30g, very meager eco bonus overall. Compare even tk Byzantines, at least there you get savings on making counter units, and in Castle age, you likely will be spamming a ton of Camel or Skirms.
Really though the core issue with Italians is that although they are good on water maps, on land maps they lack Halbs which for an archer civ are a must have and on top of that don’t really have a power spike unit/play at any point even in Imp, as their UU sucks also and their Gunpowder savings bonus is super situational and overall not very relevant (in Imp, saving resources on BBC is not that relevant as you are likely fully boomed anyway).
In a way, a good comparison for Italians is Chinese: both have a very wide tech tree, but Chinese get 2 eco bonuses on top (cheaper techs and 2 extra vills).
I think on land maps, if you exclude like Spanish and Goth, Italians are bottom tier. At any point in Feudal/Castle, you don’t feel like you you use any of the civ’s strengths and for example even if you want to go Stable play, you wonder why you didn’t pick Tatars who also have very decent Stable and many eco bonuses throughout the ages and in a way are also an “archer civ” (as Tatars, you can play Crossbow until mid-Castle without feeling you are doing something wrong)
Italians is a fully generic civ and play with no power spike or signature play. Even Malay, which are considered “meh” on Arabia, are stronger/more interesting with their early Elephant flood and faster advancing through ages (which is stronger than cheaper advancing for sure), on top of being able to do the classic strats of 20 pop Scouts, 21 pop MAA → archer etc.