Tuscany rolls out green carpet for Trapattoni and the Irish team
The natives rolled out the green carpet for Giovanni Trapattoni in Tuscany, with Miss Italia amongst the dignitaries that greeted Ireland's Euro 2012 squad at a civil reception last night.
Ireland's manager admitted he was emotional after listening to a series of tributes at the ceremony in Montecatini, the spa town where his squad are spending this week in the latest stage of preparations for next month's finals in Poland.
The beautiful Stefania Bivone was present to welcome the 73-year-old, in addition to a number of local officials from the region, at a lavish event in the grand Stabilimento Il Tettucio.
Mr Trapattoni first visited Montecatini in 1958 when he was a player with AC Milan, and decided it was the perfect location for a training trip as soon as Ireland qualified for Euro 2012.
The fact that his homeland will be in opposition at the finals didn't deter the boss from bringing his players to his favourite part of the world. Italy's base is just 50km away.
Local mayor, Giuseppi Bellandi, said that his loyalties would now be divided when the sides meet in Poznan on June 18. He expressed a wish that Ireland and Italy both progressed to meet in the final in Kiev on July 1. "I don't do miracles," joked Mr Trapattoni. "Only the players do miracles. We chose Montecatini, not knowing Italy could be next door, but we will continue to focus on our work."