Casa Azzurri is quiet today. The press room is empty and soulless without the animated Italian journalists arguing, tapping away at their keyboards, talking very loudly on the phone and, did I mention arguing, it's a pale shadow of its usual self.
For the uninitiated Casa Azzurri is the media centre for the Italian national team. This is where Italy holds their player and coach press conferences and journalists repair to the 'Sala Stampa' to type up copy. But this is so much more than a mere press working area.
Bedecked in the blue and white of the national team colours, Casa Azzurri is an oasis in the desert for homesick Italian journalists. Not for them the local excuse for coffee or the staple serving of dumplings. Here they can wander over to one of two bars where they will be served the finest Italian espresso coffee, soft drinks and snacks by Italian-speaking bartenders.
At lunchtime, with a nod and wink to the right person, Chiara will lead you through a discreet door and into the restaurant where a cornucopia of Italian gastronomy awaits - gratis. From home-made pasta to seafood dishes, cotoletti alla Milanese to chicken breasts, fine wines, cheeses, and salami, there are far worse places to be.
Initially, a help desk set up for the press at the 1998 World Cup in Paris, Casa Azzurri has since mushroomed into a multi-million pound enterprise, sponsored by companies such as Nutella, Ulivetto and Sony PlayStation. The national broadcaster RAI has a radio studio here and occasionally televises its evening progammes with some of the players. Gianluigi Buffon, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing yesterday, wandered in for a coffee the other night and was mobbed by the press hounds within approximately eight seconds.
In the evenings, accredited journalists can watch the matches from the Euros in the VIP lounge, which is smartly bedecked with white leather couches and flat-screen TVs, or wander outside to the patio, and challenge a fellow scribe, or better still, one of the beautiful Casa Azzurri girls, to a game of table football or Subbutteo.
They also hold concerts here. So far Italian singers Dolcenera, Umberto Tozzi and Nina Zilli have been among the stars who have come to entertain the lucky few here, with the gigs broadcast live on Radio Italia. The only problem with spending a day at Casa Azzurrri is that when you leave the bubble and climb into your cab to go home, you keep wondering why the music you can hear on the radio or the advertising billboards you can see are Polish and not Italian.
My idyllic working existence was briefly interrupted earlier this week by an invasion of English journalists and their endless obsession with penalties. Frustrated by Alessandro Diamanti's refusal to speak English and a ban on questions in English at Ignazio Abate's press conference ("When I cover the Six Nations in the UK I speak English," was the Italian press officer's curt put-down to complaining journalists), they made up for it when given the chance to speak to Gianluigi Buffon the following day.
Having spent all morning asking Joe Hart about penalties, the self-same barrage was put to Gianluigi Buffon. "I've won two shoot-outs and lost one, but I'd rather avoid them," said Buffon. "But what do you think about penalties, will it go to penalties, do you study England's takers?" they continued.
Rolling his eyes, Buffon said: "Well Salvatore [Sirigu] and I will have a good look at a video tonight..." and before he could finish then they both burst into laughter and struggled to compose themselves for a good few minutes. God only knows what sort of video they were referring to.
Buffon added that he feels England and Italy are two very well-matched sides with similar characteristics and it is his observation that Italy are not a side that ever steamrollers teams that is one worth considering. "Italy have a habit or playing a tight match with whoever they play," he said. "Whether they are playing a worse side or a better one it's always close."
Italy are better than England, but it this is likely to be a close-run affair. I'm torn between a 1-0 to Italy 7.413/2 and a 1-1 6.86/1. But with Riccardo Montolivo looking a likely starter behind the two strikers the 27.026/1 about the AC Milan midfielder scoring first is not to be scoffed at either.