Oddly Enough

Corporate "firewalk" ends with burnt feet in Italy

A girl walks over burning coal as part of the Dammaduwa festival celebrations in Anawatuna village, some 160 km (99 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka, March 8, 2009. REUTERS/Nir Elias

ROME (Reuters) - A “motivation day” organized by one of Italy’s biggest real estate agencies ended in tears and scars when nine staff had to be treated in hospital after walking barefoot on a bed of hot coals.

Alessandro Di Priamo, a former athlete now turned motivational trainer for companies, said the nine salespeople from the Tecnocasa agency had suffered light burns and none were seriously hurt.

“Firewalking helps people overcome their fears, seek new challenges and understand that most of what they see as their limits are self-inflicted,” Di Priamo told Reuters.

He said the hotel near Rome where the exercise was held used the wrong kind of wood and some artificial coal without him knowing.

“I have done this job for 12 years with thousands of people and never had a problem. I myself walked first on that bed of burning coals and didn’t feel anything -- in fact that same evening I went for a 16 km run,” he said.

Reporting by Silvia Aloisi, editing by Paul Casciato