This evening, Bedford’s 14,000 strong Italian community will be on the edge of their seats as their team takes on Spain in the semi-finals of the Euro 2020 tournament.
The last time Italy won a European Championship was in 1968 (not quite as many years of hurt as England) although they do have four World Cups to make up for it.
“We’re so excited for tonight,” said Libby Lionetti, the owner of La Piazza in St Paul’s Square, and his sons Luca and Joseph.
Each family member has stuck to wearing their team tops and none of them has touched the Italian flag for the duration of the tournament for fear of jinxing the national side’s success. “It’s our own superstition,” Libby told the Bedford Independent.
“We hope Italy wins 2-0. Hopefully, if we do win we can all safely celebrate and we invite everyone to celebrate with us – it’s tradition to go out and after the past year, it’s been nothing but pure joy to embrace the festivities.
“Bedford is such a culturally diverse town we should encourage and celebrate every win of those who live here.”
While everyone we spoke to predicted a win for Italy, some were more apprehensive than others.
“I’m feeling nervous but excited,” said Josie Mulé, co-organiser of this summer’s Original Culture Festival, who thinks Italy will win 2-1.
“I’m confident with Mancini as manager; he has taken our team to a great place. I know Italy will play with fantastic love and passion like they always do. FORZA ITALIA!
Over at the Higgins Pantry, owners Vincenzo and Rose Spiniello, told the Bedford Independent that Italy will beat Spain 3-1 tonight.
“Forza Italia! We’re loving the football frenzy hitting Bedford,” said Rose. “No matter which team you support, the energy and excitement that the Euros has brought to our home town has been a huge distraction and there is no better place to celebrate if you have Italian heritage.
“We are confident the town will turn green, white and red again tonight.”
Even if you’re not tuned in to the match, the sound of honking horns and rousing singing in the streets at full-time will give a good indication if Italy has been victorious.
Could it be an England v Italy final on Sunday?
“We are lucky as Bedfordians,” said Libby. “We have two teams to celebrate so if Italy doesn’t get through, we can still support England.”