The England fans' misery was lightened by the vibrant atmosphere and good-natured banter in the heart of Rome
When Wayne Rooney's penalty went in, one man stood clapping proudly in the crowded Piazza San Silvestro in the heart of Rome.
Christopher Prentice, Britain's ambassador to Italy, who has negotiated with Libyan rebels during a career that has taken him around the world, looked unfazed as 3,000 Italians around him fell silent, moments before they let rip with their foghorns as Andrea Pirlo followed up with a chip over the England keeper.
Seconds later, Ashley Young hit the bar and an Italian grabbed Prentice's arm. "Now it gets tough," he shouted over the noise from the crowd glued to the giant screen parked next to the piazza's baroque church.
One Ashley Cole miss later, followed by Alessandro Diamanti's successful penalty, and the piazza exploded in a cacophony of flags, car horns and flares, leaving Prentice and a handful of England fans ruing another England exit after extra time.
"It was close, but Italy deserved it," said the ambassador. "Same old England," moaned Simon, a Sheffield Wednesday fan tucking into his veal at the cafe.
England supporters emerging from the jubilant crowd said that the good-natured Italians had gamely put up with their cheering throughout the game.
"It's a different vibe here," said Shereen Sally, 26. "And I just loved the coloured smoke and foghorns during the national anthem."
"You wouldn't get this atmosphere in London," said accountant Catherine Reed, 32, pointing to the children milling among the grownups and families gathering around takeaway pizzas.
Standing on tiptoes alongside Prentice was Dino Gasperini, the city of Rome's assessor for its ancient monuments, who had invited the ambassador down to the game and bemoaned Italy's "sterile play with nothing on the end of it."
By the 90th minute, one Italian commentator had decided England had "built a dam" in front of the goal – or, in more familiar terms, had parked the bus – backing up the claim made on Sunday by Italian daily La Repubblica that England's football was not only "monotonous and predictable", but interchangeable with Greece's defensive style.
While rose sellers filled the piazza as the crowds thinned after the game, Michael Yuen gathered his family. "I'm disappointed," he said. "But then again, I am a Leeds fan, so I'm used to being disappointed."