The Fiat 500, Cinquecento, is a city car designed by Dante Giacosa and produced by the Italian manufacturer Fiat (Fabbrica Italiano Automobili Torino) between 1957 and 1975.
Launched as the Nuova (new) 500 in July 1957,it was a cheap and practical town car. Measuring only 2.97 metres (9 feet 9 inches) long, and originally powered by an appropriately sized 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the 500 redefined the term “small car” and is considered one of the first city cars.
Fiat Cinquecento, Rada in Chianti, 2009
Like all tourists I can’t ever get enough of looking at or remarking on these cars as they go whizzing through Rome and all of Italy for that matter. Weekends seem to be the best time to spot these beauties especially those that have been restored and are in perfect condition.
Fiat Cinquecento, Trestevere, Rome, 2013
I often think about what it would be like to bring one of these original beauties home to Baltimore. In 2007 similar to Mini Cooper, Fiat reintroduced the Cinquecento with strong styling cues from the original ’57 and sales have skyrocketed. FiatUSA
Near Perfect Condition Fiat Cinquecento, Viale della Trinita del Monti, Rome, 2012
If your plans have you headed to Italy for more than two weeks I would recommend that you consider renting a car and take advantage of a few driving adventures. A wonderful article in the travel section of the New York TImes, that I often recommend, about the ins and outs of renting cars abroad is included in this post.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to book your rental car through the country website for the rental company of choice. For example go to hertz.it vs. hertz.com. Most large companies with international locations will allow you to choose the language you wish use on the site making it very easy. You will often save 30% simply by doing this. The second piece of advice – know which credit card you will be using prior to booking and have a full understanding of the coverage your bank provides on rental cars outside of the U.S. Note the related article about IDP’s below. I have never been asked for anything other than my US drivers license.
Lastly enjoy the experience – driving through the hills of Tuscany or along the Amalfi Coast is a memory that you will keep for life and well worth the effort.
Fiat 600 Multipla, Trestevere
Strange, exotic, unusual, head turning cars are common in Rome especially from an American viewpoint. I happen to be a self proclaimed “car nut” and am never disappointed and always pleasantly surprised by what drives around the corner – Fiats, Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, Lancias, Isotta-Fraschinis and then some.
One of my all time favorites is shown above. The Fiat 600 Multipla “van” (1955 – 1970) seats 6 adults comfortably, has a top speed of 58 mph, and goes from 0 to 60 in just under 35 seconds. I wish American vehicles were offered in such fun colors!