Milan celebrates into the night
30.5 || Seamus
When Andriy Shevchenko's penalty hit the net in Manchester, some 1,200 miles away in Milan it took just two minutes for the street cavalcades to begin circling the city centre.
Time enough for groups of excited fans to dash down from apartment blocks, pile into cars and set off around the streets hanging precariously out of passenger windows and standing through sunroofs, waving huge red-and-black AC Milan flags, honking horns and screaming their delight at the club's first European Champion Clubs' Cup in nine years.
Refuge for Inter fans
For the previous three hours the city streets had been deserted as 20,000 fans watched the game on a huge screen set up inside the San Siro stadium, and most of the population crowded around TV screens. The only places doing business were cinemas, the last desperate refuge for Internazionale FC fans.
Cacophony of claxons
Many Interisti, like 33-year-old financial consultant Andrea, decided to "go to the movies" and pretend the first all-Italian final was simply not happening. But they could not avoid the deafening cacophony of claxons and car horns reverberating into the humid Milan night at the final whistle even as the Rossoneri players were still cavorting around Old Trafford with the huge trophy.
How different it was just 100 miles away to the west. The 25,000 Juventus fans had already drifted away from a giant screen, leaving Turin's elegant Piazza Castello reduced to a deserted sea of discarded litter. Knots of sad, black-and-white painted faces had to be content with 'only' a Serie A title this time.
All roads to the Duomo
But in Milan the celebrations were just starting. The San Siro, over on the western outskirts, disgorged its fans on to the metro, transformed into a red-and-black snake making its way eastward into the city centre. All roads led to Piazza Duomo, the huge main square in the city centre outside the famous cathedral. By midnight it began filling up.
Legions of supporters
A huge red banner draped down one facade of the Duomo suggested the church too had sanctioned Milan's victory - closer inspection revealed advertisements for the 600th anniversary of the world's oldest church choir. Milan's symbol - the golden Madonna statue perched atop the cathedral spire - glinted down on the legions of supporters converging by foot, car, tram and scooter.
With the stylish self-awareness that is quintessentially Italian, seemingly choreographed lines of Piaggio scooters set off around the cobbled streets, girlfriends riding pillion, sporting face paint and waving club flags above their heads. One policeman wearing a Milan scarf around his neck, said proudly: "Yes I'm on duty, but I'm a Rossonero."
Dancing in the streets
Dancing fans blocked passing trams, huge banners were drawn over car bonnets and one battered old Fiat Uno had been hastily spray-painted in club colours. The general good-natured delight was tinged with the odd malicious chant at Juve or Inter's expense and the law of idiots meant a couple of banned 'bomb' fireworks exploded dangerously in front of the cathedral's main doors. But things stayed the sane side of boisterous.
At one in the morning it was still 22 degrees and humid. Still the singing waves swept into the square. Outside the huge windowed Armani showroom in nearby Via San Pietro all'Orto someone wore a cardboard coffin. No one knew what it meant, nor cared. On the wide boulevard of Corso Venezia traffic police in shirt sleeves laughed with fans hanging from car windows at the gridlocked crossroads as traffic ground to a halt.
With morning light came hundreds of Milan flags sprouting on balconies around a bleary-eyed, but proud city. It may be Italy's fashion and business capital, but little work would be done here today. Like the rest of Italy, it knows its priorities.
By Kevin Buckley in Milan
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