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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 08:36, July 10, 2006
Italians prepare flags ahead of World cup final
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Italians unable to travel to Berlin for the World Cup final between Italy and France were busy preparing to join the flag-waving crowds in piazzas and and football stadiums across the country, local media reported on Sunday.

About 200,000 people are expected to gather in Rome's Circus Maximus, the site of an ancient chariot-racing arena, to watch the match on mega-screens and take part in the fondly expected celebrations afterwards.

Likewise huge numbers were expected at Milan's Piazza del Duomo and at central squares in Florence, Naples and Turin.

Even though Italy has been in the grip of World Cup fever for weeks now, shops selling the red, white and green "tricolore" flags and blue national team jerseys were doing a roaring trade as the week ended.

"It's incredible. I've had old ladies buying flags, businessmen buying crazy hats and mums buying shirts for their children," said one shopkeeper near Rome's Trevi fountain.

Up and down the country, plans were being changed and travel arrangements adjusted so that Italians could be in front of a screen by 8:00 pm on Sunday night.

In the southern town of Corigliano Calabro, the birthplace of Italy midfielder Rino Gattuso, football fans were preparing triumphal march for Sunday night with every one wearing their local hero's shirt.

Meanwhile, back in Rome, plans were taking shape for a grand event on Monday night to welcome home the Italian players.

"They deserve a celebration regardless of the result," said Mayor Walter Veltroni, "They have put on a fantastic show for all of us".

The Italian team is scheduled to land at a military base north of Rome, where there will be no chance of fans mobbing them. Soon after they will be greeted by top Italian officials before being escorted to Circus Maximus to be feted by thousands of fans.

Like many Italians, a restaurant in Viareggio was taking superstitious precautions on Friday to stop fate spoiling the planned party.

The restaurant owners have removed Normandy oysters and champagne from the menu for the next two days.

Source: Xinhua

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