It’s been 50 years since the launch of the Fiat Cinquecento, the car that coaxed a generation of Italians off their scooters and Fiat’s new baby was recently baptized during an extravagant launch and birthday party for modern Italy.

“We have spit blood these past few years to clean up our act,’’ says Sergio Marchionne, Fiat’s managing director given most credit for the turnaround. “And the 4th of July is our new beginning. Three years of catharsis have enabled us to see the light again. We are the Apple of the car industry,’’ he boasts. “And the new Cinquecento will be our iPod.’’

Lighting designer Durham Marenghi returned to Turin with production company K Events after their successful collaboration on the Winter Olympic ceremonies to create a magnificent light show to celebrate the event.

The launch was watched by a live audience of over 100,000 Cinquecento fans and filmed by no less than 32 cameras for live HDTV broadcast on Italian Television. Christophe Berthonneau of Groupe F created a fantastic firework sequence to “While my guitar gently weeps” and a stunning pyro finale for the event.

Executive producer for K Events was Marco Balich, set design by Florian Boje and associate lighting designers were Nick Jones and Eneas Mackintosh. Programmers were Emilano Morgia and John Sinden, and the production electrician for Italian suppliers Agora was Nicola-Manuel Tallino.