The moment Fabio Grosso hit the winning penalty, Italy erupted in an explosion of fireworks, honking horns and screams and yells of delight Sunday - while France plunged into gloom.
Rome witnessed extraordinary scenes of people running into the street with tears in their eyes, embracing complete strangers and leaping for joy.
"At long, long last we've won something really big," said one woman summing up the feeling of a nation that had feared the worst, a possible lost final, plus all the scandal of match-fixing.
The entire nation had already seemed to don the blue of its national team, with the national flag festooning anything from the smallest of motor scooters to entire facades of buildings.
As the nation settled down to watch the final, there was an eerie quiet punctuated by cheers and groans in streets that were largely empty.
Then came the eruption of the decisive penalty that suddenly saw the streets and squares fill and the partying begin.
As the extraordinary scenes were repeated across the country from Milan to Naples to Palermo, there was nothing but despondency in France to the defeat on penalties, and stunned reaction only minutes before to the sending off of Zinedine Zidane.
Tens of thousands of fans, who had assembled on the Champs Elysees looked on aghast as a game in which France seemed to have the edge suddenly and dramatically went so wrong.
Squares and stadiums around the country, which had been full of fans watching the match on giant screens, emptied in disappointment.
"That wasn't a good match, I'm going home," said one Paris fan summing up the sombre mood.
Meanwhile in the Charlety stadium in Paris clashes broke out repeatedly between some fans and security personnel during the match.
In Paris alone, some 3,000 police were on duty to prevent any outbreaks of fan violence.