Cesena, Italy, probably does not see this often. The roundabouts and country roads around the medium-sized city of 97,000 were brought to a crawl as scores of buses and vans inched toward the entrance to Technogym's new Wellness Village, located hard between low walls of the old city and the autostrade. The expansive campus, which houses the company's factory, offices, and workout and spa facilities, is staffed by 1,000 of Technogym's 2,200 worldwide employees, most of whom appear to be here as well, working out on climbers and ellipticals on the massive building's balconies, playing pickup games on the outdoor basketball court, striding by in groups of Nordic walkers, and holding an impromptu-seeming clinic including medicine balls and various other tools of the trade. None of it is impromptu, of course - it is all being done for our benefit, filmed, live-streamedâ¦when our charming tour guide, Rachele Schiavinato, says that the event is taking place because "We are proud of what we have achieved, especially in this economy," it is easy to believe.
Inside, the company's clients, members of the world consumer and trade press, and scores of politicians and dignitaries wearing green, white and red sashes pass by rows of black-clad waiters who have emerged from the campus kitchens bearing trays of food and healthy drinks. Employees are given two hours for lunch, Rachele says, so they can enjoy three healthy lunch choices (vegan, vegetarian and Mediterranean, which one imagines includes absolutely everything excluded by the first two) and still have time for a workout and shower. The facility itself is most impressive, designed by Antonio Citterio, an architect known for his fine furniture (it shows), and at the moment we're sitting in front of a stage constructed for the event in a portion of the production facility. Behind the yellow curtains, pieces of equipment sit, partially fabricated, while stacks of boxed products await shipping. Outside, helicopters hover: The country's president, Giorgio Napolitano, is on site, along with its Minister of Health and its Minister of Sports and Tourism (among other ministers), and following an opening ceremony, more tours and speeches, Bill Clinton is giving the keynote to the 20th Annual Wellness Congress at 4:30. As I said, Cesena doesn't see this often.
The ceremony is in Italian (at the moment we're watching a narrated, piped-in video of the arrival of the Italian dignitaries, filmed only minutes ago), but the day's messages are easy to understand even before being brought our headsets for simultaneous interpretation. The company's pride is on full display and, apparently, no expense has been spared.
Cesena's mayor, Paolo Lucchi, speaks.
Technogym is live-streaming the day's events here.