Rome, Italy – La Gazzetta dello Sport, the main sport newspaper in Italy, carries a headline on Saturday that reads “W L’Italia”.
While they mean “Go Italy” the W also stands for Wimbledon and Wembley because of Italy’s chances of lifting two trophies in London on Sunday.
First-up, Matteo Berrettini, 25, takes on world number one Noivak Djokovic in the Wimbledon men’s final.
Later in the day, the men’s football team will lock horns with England at Wembley Stadium, hoping to lift their second European Championship trophy.
Rome’s mayor Virginia Raggi had proposed to open the Olympic Stadium and allow 16,000 fans inside for the final but the idea was shot down by authorities over concerns such a move could further spread the coronavirus.
Milan, meanwhile, has decided against public viewing altogether due to the pandemic.
Italy has reported almost 4.3 million cases of the coronavirus, including more than 127,000 deaths.
However, two fan zones have set up in the city – in Piazza del Popolo and at the Roman Forum. Entries at both are via tickets that can be purchased free of charge from midnight on Saturday.
On Saturday, the atmosphere in Rome’s city centre was festive and quiet at the same time, as people took a stroll looking for a place where they could reserve a seat and watch the match on Sunday evening.
“We will watch the match in a bar that has a big screen on the street because it is the final, we want to cheer with other people especially after the pandemic when we were unable to be outside,” Antonio Martino, 37, and Eros Cesano, 36, told Al Jazeera.
“We watched all the matches at home with friends and family but tomorrow is different. We are excited.
“This match has a different feeling to the 2006 World Cup final [Italy won 5-3 on penalties against France]. It’s a different feeling indeed. But we believe we can beat England. We have to win to forget this year.
“It would have been amazing if we could have a chance to travel around Europe but at least we are in Rome and it’s incredible as well.”
La nuova Piazzetta restaurant, located near the Colosseum, is right in front of Shamrock Pub, a sports bar where all Euro 2020 matches have been broadcast.
The restaurant will not be showing the match live but they expect a healthy flow of customers, the staff told Al Jazeera, as the “pub across the road will be packed and people will need to eat something, hopefully coming to our tables”.
Staff at Shamrock Pub told Al Jazeera they had been taking reservations for the final for a week now. They have turned down all reservations but are still expecting a full house.
“If Italy win, I don’t think we’ll be able to close the place until the morning,” one staff said.
At the Puma store in the central Via del Corso, all the official team jerseys are sold out. It was not just the locals that bought them. Tourists came in healthy numbers to purchase them, staff said.
“Italy can do it. The media is overestimating England and making them look stronger than Italy,” Emanuele, a 16-year old from Catania, told Al Jazeera.
“This could work in our favour. If we win, and we will win, we will celebrate more than anyone can imagine right now. I won’t be in Rome for the final but will be watching it back home in Catania.”
While tourism numbers have decreased, resulting in fewer souvenir sales, the owner of a small shop facing Trevi Fountain said she sold all T-shirts that had an Italian flag.
“There’s huge enthusiasm among the public. We have forgotten missing out on the World Cup in 2018. What is important now is to win on Sunday, that’s what matters,” Andrea Laurenti, a 42-year-old taxi driver, told Al Jazeera.
“Due to the pandemic, there aren’t that many tourists but that doesn’t matter for the game. I will work on Sunday morning because it’s my shift but I wouldn’t have worked on Sunday evening because of the match.
“But I’m telling you, it’ll be really difficult to find a taxi in Rome during the match because we will all watch it, no matter what.”
Author: Maria Michela D’Alessandro
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