What an unforgettable experience driving a Vintage Fiat 500 in Tuscany! Not too long ago, friends Gina and Jay arrived in Lucca from their home in New Orleans, USA. They mentioned they had already booked this nostalgic event prior to their arrival in Italy, and as soon as I read the email, I asked Gary, “Want to do this with them if we can?”
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It was a beautiful day in March, the sun was out and it was even warm for this time of year in Lucca. We walked just outside the southern wall to the San Concordio area of Lucca. In a matter of moments, we found the rental location. We spotted two, cute vintage Fiat 500s in front of the building and stepped inside.
Preparing for the Adventure
After signing some necessary papers, Luca gave Jay and Gary instructions on how to drive this quirky, vintage car. Jay chose the tan 1969 Fiat, leaving the 1965 red one for Gary to drive. Both had old luggage strapped to the truck and sunroofs. Having never been inside one of these beauties, I wasn’t surprised the inside was quite bare. With a few photos taken, we were ready to go.
Gina wanted to hire a tour guide rather than us trying to figure out the recommended route using a map. Luca gave each of us a walkie-talkie so we could communicate, advising us which way we were going to turn. He got in his little light blue 1967 Volsewagon Beatle with his friend at the wheel.
And Off We Go!
Getting through the city traffic while getting the hang of the car was not too much of an issue for the guys. Gina and I were both willing passengers. Even though I could drive a stick, this was a special day for Gary. I knew he would love to drive this vintage car almost as much as he enjoyed driving the Lamborghini.
As we made several turns, we finally arrived in the Tuscan countryside. The roads were narrow, but still two-way streets. Winding around we passed fields, a few abandoned buildings, and scenery that was spectacular. Olive trees and Italian tall cypress-lined the perimeter.
We were heading to Montecarlo, a commune in the Province of Lucca. It’s a small town sitting high up on a hill and about fifteen kilometers (9.5 miles) from Lucca. They are famous for the wine, and we are stopping there for lunch. Taking a long way, we really enjoy the serene countryside. It was still early for sunflowers, but the wildflowers were starting to bloom.
“We are going to take a left (or right) up ahead,” Luca would say before we got to an intersection. At one point he played Luciano Pavarotti singing “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot over the radio. It brought a smile to our faces and I’m sure Gina and Jay were smiling too. I took bunches of photos that day, quite a few of the back of their car. Gina had her hands through the sunroof a few times and it made for the cutest of photos.
Then Luca advised we were going to make a stop. He got out of his car, the lead car, to take a photo of us in our cars. Gina and Jay kissed while Gary and I waved through the sunroof and side window. This capture turned out to be the “photo of the day,” as far as I’m concerned. It was a moment in time captured and still brings a smile to my face each time I see it.
History of the Fiat 500
The Fiat 500, or Cinquecento as it’s also known, is unmistakably Italian. Like the Vespa, it’s known and linked with Italy. It was first launched in Italy in July 1957 – who knew the same month and year of my birth! It measured just over 9 feet long and was powered by a 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine. Personally, I had to look that up. I had no idea.
It was designed by Dante Giacosa and this tiny car was created for use in the narrow city streets of Italy. It quickly earned the name, “the people’s car.” The production of this iconic car lasted from 1957 to 1975. The Fiat 500 rose in popularity between the 60s and 70s. Fiat continually reinvented the model with new alterations to keep the interest alive. The sunroof quickly became a very popular new addition.
The production of the Fiat 500 ended in 1975. It was at this time a new era of cars was born as luxury and comfort became the interest and demand. The Fiat 500 actually turned from a cheap car into a fashion statement for a complete generation.
The Day Continues
Arriving in Montecarlo, we headed inside a restaurant for some lunch. The food was delicious and not too much wine was consumed. Back in the cars, we head back to Lucca. The day lasted several hours and was only cut a little short as our water heater sprung a leak that morning and a plumber was coming to fix it.
The photos and the memories will last a lifetime. So will our friendship with these two great people. We met them because they found our blog and we began emailing and Zooming. We only finally met them in person when they arrived in Lucca. Thank you both for letting us tag along on your vintage Fiat 500 adventure. We loved every moment of it.