Europe's new soccer champions were feted on their return home at the Italian presidential palace and then the premier's office, with Rome's streets lined by flag-waving and car-honking fans.
The first Italy team to win the European Championship in 53 years knew it was in for a hectic day when its chartered flight from London arrived at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport at dawn on Monday and a banner on the tarmac read, "Grazie Azzurri."
Airport workers cheered as the team left the plane. Captain Giorgio Chiellini pumped his fist in the air, and coach Roberto Mancini hoisted the trophy high over their heads. There was even a cheer for defender Leonardo Spinazzola, as he hopped down the steps on one foot, his other in a cast from an Achilles tendon injury.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella had been at Wembley Stadium on Sunday night cheering with Azzurri fans as Italy won the Euro 2020 final following a 3-2 penalty shootout win over England.
Then Mattarella raced back to Rome to be at the Quirinal presidential palace to greet the team. "I'm not a (soccer) commentator," he said, "but I thought you deserved the victory well beyond whatever happened during the penalty shootout."
Mattarella also generously praised another of his guests at the palace, tennis player Matteo Berrettini, who reached the Wimbledon singles final before succumbing on Sunday to Novak Djokovic.
From the presidential palace, the soccer players boarded the team bus to go to Premier Mario Draghi's office, applauded on the streets the entire way.
There was enough joy to go around to even reach the 10th-floor hospital suite of Pope Francis, who, even before the Italian victory, could savour the triumph of the team from his native Argentina, which won the Copa America on Saturday.
For Italians, the championship was a new beginning for their youthful national team and a country that's been yearning to return to normality after being hit hard and long by the pandemic.
Many Italians saw the European Championship as a relaunch for a country that spent much of the past 16 months in various stages of lockdown. Italy was the first country outside Asia to get hit by the pandemic and suffered immensely, particularly in the spring of 2020 when hospitals in northern Italy were overwhelmed and the death toll soared.
Italy has recorded more than 127,000 COVID-19 deaths, the highest in the 27-nation European Union.