Germany groaned when two late Italian goals abruptly ended the World Cup host's dream of lifting the trophy in Berlin.
Huge crowds crammed streets and squares as the semifinal match dragged into the late evening, hoping to cheer coach Juergen Klinsmann's team into the final.
About 1 million people, according to a Berlin city government estimate, turned Berlin's 'Fan Mile' into a sea of black, red and yellow German flags. They yelled 'finale' to the tune of 'Volare' and taunted Italy's team by chanting 'You're only pizza deliverers.'
Howls of frustration as a German goal failed to materialise for nearly two long hours turned to groans as Italy scored two in quick succession in the closing minutes of extra time for a 2-0 win.
One fan's thoughts immediately turned to Saturday's third-place playoff match, shouting, "Now, we'll be third."
But many just filed away in silence, some shaking their heads as they tried to take in a defeat that came just as Germany seemed close to a penalty shootout - a national specialty.
Police in Dortmund, where the match was played, said a few fights broke out in the city after the game but had no information on arrests.
"I don't have anything against the Italian people - I have no problem with them. But I'm feeling betrayed because the Germans were the better team in this game," said Ursel Weber, who works at a medical supply company.
"I hope we will get third place and I hope Italy will not be the champion," he added. And others were feeling just as bad.
"I am not going to sleep tonight, or maybe the next week," Klaus Braun said. "I haven't felt this terrible since my parents divorced."
The 'Fan Mile,' the biggest of the outdoor festivals that has sprung up for the World Cup, was extended before Tuesday's semifinal to accommodate the growing crush of home fans. About 200,000 people watched the game in Dortmund; 70,000 in Hamburg and 55,000 in Munich.
Elsewhere, Frankfurt let fans into its World Cup stadium, which already has seen its last match to watch a live broadcast. Most of the 40,000 tickets had gone by mid-afternoon - hours before kickoff.
During the tournament, Berlin, Berlin, we're going to Berlin became a favourite fan chant as confidence built that Germany would reach Sunday's final in the capital.
Instead, Klinsmann's team is headed to Stuttgart for the third-place playoff.
Some other German fans vandalised Italian restaurants and torched garbage bins after the host nation was defeated by Italy in the World Cup semi-finals, police said on Wednesday.
In the central town of Quedlinburg, some 25 fans stormed into an Italian restaurant and knocked over chairs and tables after Italy won 2-0 late in extra-time on Tuesday.
In Stendal, also in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, some 40 German fans targetted an Italian ice cream parlour and in nearby Magdeburg, they ripped the flowerboxes off the windows of an Italian restaurant.
The police said 150 troublemakers torched garbage bins and smashed bottles in Hoyerswerda in the eastern state of Saxony.
Police spokesman Jens Baehr said seven people were arrested and later released.
In the western city of Zweibruecken a brawl broke out between about 200 people, but nobody was seriously injured. Twelve people were arrested. Tempers also flared in Dortmund, where the semi-final was played.
"We are dealing with small scuffles throughout the city," a police spokesman said after the match.