6.06 on Monday 12 July, first day as European Champions. A sultry Roman dawn welcomes the Azzurri to Fiumicino, flight AZ9001. The tailgate opens and Mancini and Chiellini appear, here is the cup. It is the first of many rumors, this time it comes from the airport operators of the capital. There is the banner of Aeroporti di Roma «Grazie Azzurri», the bus arrives alongside and at 6.30 am off to the Hotel Parco dei Principi in Parioli.
There the photo that goes around the world is taken: Chiellini and Bonucci on the bed, among them the cup, Bonucci on Instagram: «Don’t worry, sleep safely, we’ll protect you». And Chiellini sleeps there, with the cup, citing Cannavaro, the captain of the national team who in 2006 slept with another cup, that of World Champions. Rome has just ended a pyrotechnic night that worries about possible infections. So there is silence. The team rests. At 2.30 pm light lunch and then by bus for the invitation to the Quirinale, formulated by Sergio Mattarella before the victory. The president returned to Rome at 3.45 am after a night of enthusiasm.
Europeans, night of celebration in the squares of Italy
Piazza del Quirinale is closed to traffic, in front of the Palazzo della Consulta there is one crowd of fans: flags, trumpets, enthusiasm. And the boys, with gold medals, in blue t-shirts and light jackets, stop, dance and sing. Matteo Berrettini appears: as a tennis player, and as a boy from Northern Rome, he has a jacket and tie. He immediately becomes one of the Azzurri, he will spend the day with them: «I have never seen such an important match. Only my victory was missing ».
Mattarella receives them in the gardens. The cup is tenaciously held in the hands of Chiellini who shares it with Mancini and the others but without ever leaving it. And when Mancini enters he says: “I dedicate this cup to all Italians, especially those residing abroad”. Mattarella appears, excited. Giovanni Malagò, president of Coni (“Italian sport never so appreciated”), the president of the FIGC, Giovanni Gravina (“this national team is Italy that wants to start again”), the president of Federtennis, Angelo Binaghi (“we had never we owe it to Matteo to reach the Wimbledon final »).
Chiellini turns to the head of state: “If we are here today it is because we shared one of the most beautiful feelings in life: friendship” and dedicates his victory almost crying to his friend Davide Astori, who passed away on March 4, 2018. Then Mattarella speaks: «The harmony that united you is the sense of sport. You fully deserved to win, well beyond the penalties, thanks to Gianluca Vialli who expressed the feelings we all felt on TV. Kudos to Donnarumma for being the best player in the tournament. I want to make my own the memory of Davide Astori and then Spinazzola who with crutches managed to precede everyone in the award ceremony ». Praise Donnarumma’s second save of the last penalty. Then you joke. The players give him a shirt with “Mattarella” and the number 10, Insigne laughs: “But that’s mine!”, someone from the bottom shouts. “Put it on!” The president laughs.
And then, the twist: all in open buses, the ones used for tourists, with the words “Champions of Europe”. In a few minutes via del Corso is a river of tricolors, the crowd is infinite. A triumphal march wanted by the Azzurri to thank the Italian fans, after a negotiation conducted by Bonucci, it goes at a walking pace live on Rai 1: via del Corso, piazza Venezia, via del Tritone. On the roof Chiellini does not give up the cup even for a minute, then Mancini, and all the others. The boys start the be, lowering and raising his arms and cup to heaven. Finally at the hotel, there are families, big party until late. In the words of Draghi, they really entered history.