Celebrating 40 years of Parentini

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New Year’s are full of promise. New beginnings, resolutions and goals. The chance to start afresh.

So it was in January 1976, 40 years ago, that the Parentini company was born. Last weekend they celebrated their 40th anniversary and I was privileged and honoured to be there.

The celebrations took place in the beautiful and charming Quattro Gigli Hotel in Montopoli, just up the hill from Parentini’s headquarters in Capanne. The hotel’s twisty and never ending corridors and stairs revealed a stunning old vaulted ex-wine cellar, the perfect Tuscan setting for the party.

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The intimate and charming room was full of Gianpaolo Parentini’s close friends and family, staff from the office and factory, agents and distributers and ex-professional riders. It was a great mix of people from across Italy and Europe. On everyone’s place setting was a special anniversary book, put together by the design team at Parentini. Every spread represented a year from 1976, featuring images from that particular season, the great and the good before our very eyes. Assembled on a separate table to the side of the room were jersey’s from Parentini’s archives – jersey’s steeped in cycling history and folklore. I knew the company had a rich history but to see it all in one place was awe inspiring.

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With a glass of Prosecco in hand, we toasted the previous 40 years, and Gianpaolo introduced some very special people in the room. First up was Rosanna and Rita. You could say Rosanna is every bit as important as Gianpaolo, because she weaved the wool fabric for the Fiorella squad (this was in fact the very first time stripes had been incorporated into an actual cycling jersey’s fabric, rather than being stitched on) and then cut the patterns on the family’s kitchen table. Rosanna is now enjoying her hard won retirement, whereas Rita is still working at Parentini! 40 years ago she stitched and made the jersey’s Rosanna had weaved and cut. She now oversees production within the factory. It’s her talent and experience that means there aren’t many returns of faulty goods!

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When the applause died down the room was introduced to two ex-professional’s who rode in the first Fiorella jersey’s. Ricardo Magrini, stage winner at the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia and now Italy’s Eurosport cycling pundit, and Carmelo Barone, ex Olympian, prolific professional winner and also Giro stage winner. These two ‘Giants of the Road’ were the first ever members of the Parentini Test Team, giving insightful feedback enabling Parentini to continue producing high quality cycle clothing.

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It was a superb evening, full of laughter, memories and good food. Roll on the next 10 years for the 50th Anniversary.

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