Italy’s first major volleyball success came
in the form of a bronze medal at the 1948 European Championships, which they
hosted, but it was only in the early ‘70s that Italy became a major force in
the sport – with the gold at the 1970 World University Games in Turin. In 1978,
Italy hosted the World Championship, and the team led by Carmelo Pittera, won
the silver medal. They followed this up with a bronze at the 1984 Olympic Games
in Los Angeles under Silvano Prandi.
In 1989, with the advent of Julio Velasco as the leader of the Azzurri, Italy
began a 15-year spell of domination that continued under coaches Paulo Roberto
“Bebeto” de Freitas, Andrea Anastasi and Gian Paolo Montali. From 1989 to 2005,
Italy won three World Championships, one World Cup, six European Championships,
eight World Leagues and three Olympic medals (silver in Atlanta 1996, bronze in
Sydney 2000 and silver in Athens 2004).
More recently, there have been glimpses of a possible revival of the Italian
team’s glory days with their current young and progressive players. They
finished sixth at the 2010 World League, second at the 2011 European
Championship and fourth at the 2011 World Cup. They also won a bronze medal at
the 2012 Olympic Games in London and 2013 World League, and a silver medal at
the European Championship.