Day 1 of the final was a dramatic one, mainly in the first rubber, where Roberta Vinci fought off four match points - three in the second set and another one in the third set - to get past Panova, 57 75 86.
The win, which was Vinci's 50th match win of the year, lasted a whopping three hours and 13 minutes.
"There were a lot of ups and downs but I tried to stay focused on every single point, and it was not easy but in the end the important thing was to win," an elated Vinci said right after the match.
"This means a lot. I've had a great season, but this is a fantastic win for me. I love to play Fed Cup and this was a really important match. It's just always an incredible feeling for me to play for Italy."
Despite the disappointment, even Panova ranked the match as one of the most exciting of her career.
"It's definitely Top 3," she said. "I've only had a few that were this long, close and tiring!"
Errani wrapped up Day 1 with a 61 64 win over Irina Khromacheva, rallying from 4-2 down in the second set to close it out in straights. And Errani was back on the court the next morning, losing just seven points in seven service games on the way to a 59-minute, 61 61 win over Alisa Kleybanova.
Italy had clinched its fourth Fed Cup title, following victories in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
"We're all very happy," Errani said in her on-court interview. "I know Alisa, she's a great player, so it wasn't an easy match, but I'm really happy with the way I played and this is so exciting for us.
"This victory isn't just for me, it's for the whole team, and all of Italy!"
The always-classy Kleybanova was also in good spirits afterwards. "Sara's playing great, she's in great shape and it's her favorite surface, so even if I played my best tennis it would have been extremely tough to win it," she said. "But I'm still really proud to have been here for my team. The girls did a great job yesterday, they played amazing, and for me it was a good experience to play in the final."
The other reverse singles rubber between Vinci and Khromacheva wasn't played, but the doubles rubber was, with Karin Knapp and Flavia Pennetta beating Margarita Gasparyan and Khromacheva in match tie-break format, 46 62 104. So Italy wrapped up the weekend with a 4-0 championship victory.