Lygon St comes alive after Italy’s win before plunging into lockdown

Katie Johnson

Lygon St was flooded with a sea of Italian flags, honking cars and jubilant fans after Italy won the Euro Final in early July.

At least 2000 fans braved the cold morning air to watch the game at Argyle Square at 5am and then spilled into the cafes and bars which had opened early for the action.

Papa Gino’s manager Frankie Acanfora said Italy’s win was “very exciting” for Lygon St.

“The street hasn’t seen anything like this for a long time, probably since 2006,” Mr Acanfora said.

“It’s buzzing with energy.”

The projector in Argyle Square was set up by an unknown person and was propped up on an esky for all to enjoy.

The City of Melbourne did not provide any amenities for the event due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The council’s CEO Justin Hanney said it was not possible for the council to participate as the Piazza Italia could only accommodate 300 people under the density requirements.

“Lygon St is synonymous with Italian culture and we know how passionately locals support their team, but it was not possible under the Victorian Government health restrictions for the City of Melbourne to deliver a live site to show the Euro 2021 football championships,” Mr Hanney said.

“Football fans were encouraged to watch the game at local venues to support local traders, and City of Melbourne staff visited venues in Carlton reminding owners of the COVID-19 health restrictions.”

“We understand people wanted to celebrate together but this latest surge in COVID-19 cases shows the virus has not gone away and we all need to follow the health directions.”

Although the crowds were in breach of the capacity regulations, onlookers said fans had treated the space respectfully.  Melbourne North Police Station Senior Sergeant Jim Lappin said there was a “substantial crowd of 1000 people or more who behaved well” at Argyle Square.

“The crowd was well-behaved, jubilant and celebratory,” Sen Sgt Lappins said.

“We’ve arrested a few people for lighting flares due to the safety issues but that’s all we’ve had to manage.”

Traders along the Lygon St strip were also enjoying the electric atmosphere.

St Charly owner Tony Rahme said that although fans were “going crazy” the crowds had been respectful.

“The energy is full on, but we’ve been really happy with the police presence as there’s been no damage and everything has been fine,” Mr Rahme said.

Donnini’s owner Marco Donnini said the atmosphere was one of “controlled joy”.

“There was definitely an energy of suppressed enthusiasm this morning which came out in a very well-tempered way,” Mr Donnini said.


The fact that so many people can call Carlton and Lygon St home and can celebrate safely is excellent for the traders and the whole suburb.


“I’m looking forward to Carlton winning a premiership.”

The Madaferri family was enjoying a meal at DOC after the win and had travelled from Oakleigh East to be among the action.

Jessica Madaferri said the energy was amazing and her “heart was pumping”.

“I feel like I need blood pressure medication,” she said.

Dom Madaferri was also feeling the passion.

“I’m feeling better than when I got married,” he said.

Bruno Curulli had just finished school and was walking down Lygon St with his mother when Inner City News approached him.

“It was a well-deserved win and a fun match to watch, coming out here the energy is like a big party,” Mr Curulli said.

“There’s a sense of belonging with everyone out on the street, everyone here is like family.”

To celebrate the win, the Royal Exhibition Building was lit up with the colours of the Italian flag for the night.

Premier Daniel Andrews commended the team in a Facebook post.

“This morning hundreds of Azzurri fans watched the Euro final on Lygon St from a projector balanced on an esky on top of a table,” the Premier wrote.

“I thought we could light up something else tonight to celebrate their win. Forza Italia.”

Caption: Fans celebrating Italy’s win at the Euro 2020 Final on Lygon St.

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