Cinquecento - love of the Fiat 500,

Cinquecento Love

The Cinquecento… there is something special about this little car. I think it’s adorable. That’s probably not a term most people would use to describe a car. Perhaps beautiful, sexy, or sleek are more likely terms… but not for me and not for the Cinquecento.

Even before Gary and I moved to Italy and before Gary had so much fun driving a vintage one- I loved seeing photos of them. I enjoyed spotting them driving on the streets of Italy. It’s a car that has lasted through decades.  

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Nothing says Italian style like a Fiat 500 [pronounced cheen·kweh·CHEN·toh]. Every time I see one, I have to take a photo. It’s almost like my obsession with doors in Italy.

The Fiat 500, or Cinquecento is unmistakably Italian. Just like the Vespa –  its image is universally linked with Italy.  It was produced to be a small, affordable car for everyone.

A Little Cinquecento History

The Cinquecento was designed by Dante Giacosa and launched in July 1957. Just so happens the month and year I was born – wonder why it’s so special to me! This small car was built for the Italian population driving the small, narrow streets of Italy. It measured 2.5 meters long (9 feet) and was powered by a 479 cc two-cylinder. The technical part of this cute car doesn’t interest me, but I thought I’d throw it in for any guys reading.

Cinquecento - love of the Fiat 500,

Production of the iconic Cinquecento ran for only eighteen years, from 1957 to 1975. But it certainly won the hearts of Italians. Its low maintenance costs and fuel economy made it a favorite among city dwellers.

(photo credit: Klaus Heller, Pixabay)

From 1958 – 1960, Fiat produced a striking sporty color pattern of white with red stripes. Up until then, all Fiat 500s had a canvas fold-back top. Fast forward… and Fiat began creating sunroofs.

Fiat ceased production of the Fiat 500 in August 1975. After almost four million cars were built and 18 years in the making, the final Cinquecento rolled off the production line at the Sicilia plant in Palermo, Sicily. Production may have stopped but Italian roads are still filled with huge numbers of these durable little cars.

Fiat finally realized there was an emotional attachment to this car and began production again in 2007. Their retro 500 has proven to be a best seller – now a bit larger than the original.  

Cinquecento - love of the Fiat 500,
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Our Vintage 500 Day

When our friends, Gina and Jay from New Orleans came to visit Lucca, they had already booked an event here in Lucca. To drive a vintage Fiat for the day. They asked us to join them… how could we refuse?

Gary was particularly excited and the day couldn’t have been more perfect. You can read about this day in our post. We wrote about it also in our second book, “When Your Heart Finds Its Home.”

We highly recommend Luca and his company if coming to Lucca and want an amazing experience driving a vintage Fiat through the Tuscan countryside. It would be awesome if an entire group went together!

Travel insurance at great rates for individuals and groups.

In Conclusion

So while Gary continues to decide whether we need a car in Lucca, I know he’s not looking at a Fiat 500. He thinks it’s too small for when guests come to visit. But secretly (well, I guess not after this post) I’m hoping for a cute Fiat 500.
Cinquecento - love of the Fiat 500,


  1. Totally get it Ilene
    My wife and I always rent a cinquecento when traveling around Italy- although lately we do mostly trains which I’ve fallen in love with
    I’ve got an Alfa Romeo here in Florida and it’s great!
    Keep your blogs coming- fun to read
    Salute. Jeff

  2. It is certainly an iconic vehicle. We had a 500 here in the US for a little over 12 years – it ran like a champ. Our boys both took their drivers tests in it, almost cheating when doing the parallel parking test. My wife looked very cute in it!

    Love your posts about the culture and style of Italy, and jealous you get to live immersed in it daily.

    1. Angelo- thank you always for your interaction and kind comments on the blog- it really means a great deal and actually helps with ranking. Love your sons took their drivers test using it – awesome!

  3. Hi Ilene,
    I’ve read your books, and think I’ve decided to move to Lucca from Spain. Like you, I’m an American from the Northeast, and CO. .I will visit Lucca soon to check it out. If I need a car in Lucca, I wasn’t a Fiat 500!

    I hope to meet you soon-

  4. Yes, the vintage 500s are adorable!
    We’ve gone on “tours” where you drive the car as you follow your guide. We’ve done it in Chianti (from Florence), along the coast from Livorno, and a sunset drive through Rome.

    1. Ahhh- we did that too Dawn. There’s a post and the story is in our book, “When Your Heart Finds Its Home.” We went with a couple from New Orleans and had the best day!!

  5. We live in Dallas TX and found a Cinquecento for sale a few years back and decided to test drive it and possibly buy it. Cute car, but not for driving in Dallas. I had a Smart car at one time and it was challenging enough, but the Cinquecento would get us killed here. It was so underpowered and the brakes so inadequate…of course both can be improved, but we passed. Putting around between towns in Italy, it would probably be just fine, and you’re right, they are “adorable”.

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