Checchinato was born in Adria, close to Rovigo. His father, called Giancarlo, was an international lock, being capped for Italy during the 1970s. He represented the Italian national team at the World Cup in 1995 in South Africa, 1999 in Wales and in 2003 in Australia as well as representing Italy in several tournaments. He earned 83 caps and scored 21 tries in international matches. Checchinato's international try total was an all-time record for forwards until 2007, when it was surpassed by Colin Charvis of Wales.