Italy, the Champions of Europe: celebrations all over the countryFrom initial despair to delight: a magical night for the Azzurri and all Italians
Monday, July 12, 2021
Just before midnight, the sky above Italy turned Azzurro. Gigio Donnarumma’s save to deny Saka sent the Piazza del Popolo, the Via dei Fori Imperiali and the homes of all Italians, who were at Wembley in spirit, into raptures. Italy are the European champions, and so are the millions of television viewers and thousands of fans who flocked to the UEFA Festival set up in the centre of Rome for a whole month. This was the beating heart of support in the city where the Azzurri’s magnificent Euro 2020 adventure began.
3500 people watched the final between Italy and England on the big screens: 2,500 at the Piazza del Popolo and another 1,000 at the Fan Zone in Via dei Fori Imperiali. Tickets, which were free, were sold out in a matter of minutes – testament to the love felt by Italians for their National Team.
Before the match, music from Raffaella Carrà, Franco Battiato, Adriano Celentano and Rino Gaetano was played to get things going. Then came a magnificent piece of choreography: a 500 square-metre flag was unfurled in the middle of the square, while 90 green, white and red balloons (all one metre in diameter) were also on display. Each of them represented a minute of a match which was then extended by a further 30 minutes and beyond, with Roberto Mancini’s men eventually emerging victorious on penalties.
The evening had got off to a bad start, with Shaw’s early goal bringing the Football Village to near silence. But those present found their voices again as Bonucci grabbed an equaliser, and they then watched with bated breath as an intense penalty shootout unfolded: Belotti and Jorginho failed to convert, but there were also England’s misses. And then Donnarumma kept out Saka’s spot-kick, a save which marked the start of a night that only came to an end when the sun had already risen. Thousands of fans came out waving Italian flags, while the sound of horns could be heard all over the country. Due to safety reasons, the Piazza del Popolo was closed off, but the streets of the capital were filled with four colours: the green, white and red of the Italian flag, and the blue of the Azzurri shirt.