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Cars in Italy

Pauline Kenny

When you first arrive in Italy you are in a state of shock. Everything looks different. The cars are very small, the streets are very narrow - everything looks like it is going at super-fast speed and you are in slow motion. Part of it is the jet-lag and time change; part of it is that things are different there. When we did our first big trip to Europe in 1988, we felt like we had arrived on another planet, not just another continent. Unfortunately, this wonderful feeling of the difference disappears after a few trips. Now we fly into Florence and just look around and are happy to be there. The "stunned feeling" has gone. 

But, I took these pictures when we still had not got over the difference. There are lots of normal looking Italian cars, but these very small ones are the most interesting. Here are a few pictures so you can know what to expect.

The Fiat 500

Steve beside a Fiat 500 in Rome. 10/99

(Cinque Cento - CHEEN-kweh CHEHN-toh)

Here is a photo of Steve standing beside a Fiat 500 (Cinque Cento) in Rome.

You see these cars everywhere; we call them "peanuts", but really they more remind you of M&Ms. They are supposed to be the most reliable Fiat made. It seems as if everyone has one.

The Ape


This photo shows Steve between a Fiat 500 and an Ape. Apes are 3-wheeled vehicles that are a cross between a motorcycle and a small truck. You see them all over the countryside and in the small towns. They go very slowly on the roads and the drivers usually keep close to the edge of the road so you can pass them easily. On Saturday evening you will see the farmer and his wife crammed into the front seat, driving into town for the evening. A personal goal of mine is to drive one of these some day!

Steve in between a Fiat 500 and an Ape in a Ligurian hill town. 06/00

The Smart Car

Smart car in Rome. 10/99

This is the new "Smart Car". It is even shorter in length than the Fiat 500: 11 of my feet lengths for the Fiat 500, 10 for the Smart Car. But it is taller and supposed to be very roomy inside.


These are the scooter-type motorcycles that you see everywhere. "Vespa" means wasp, because they sound like wasps buzzing. They have been around since the 1950s and the cities are full of them.

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