Iconic, legendary and classically Italian: we use these words to describe pizza, Rome and even gelato – but here we’ll be focusing on another authentic piece of Italian history, the Fiat 500 automobile. This fun little car was designed in 1957 and intended to be a car for all people, and today it has garnered a reputation a popular vehicle for visitors to Italy’s central Tuscany region. |
Keep reading for more about one of everyone’s favourite things to do in Tuscany: driving a Fiat 500!
Aka the ‘Cinquecento’
Let’s first learn a little more about this fun car, known in Italy as the cinquecento. Today’s make and model is based off of the original Fiat 500 Topolino, which is Italian for ‘little mouse.’ The Fiat’s small frame is one of its most memorable characteristics, and allows drivers to easily manoeuvre around the narrow streets and sharp turns of Italy’s cities and countryside.
The Original Design
The designers and manufacturers of the first model wanted to create an affordable, easy-to-use vehicle that truly could be used by all people. Basing their ideas on the popular German Volkswagen, the first Fiat was born. This ground-breaking model was just over nine feet long and featured two seats, rear-hinging doors and the capacity to drive 85 km/h at its highest speed. While the manufacturers soon developed newer versions for greater efficiency, this original model went on to inspire other vehicle companies too, like the Austrian Steyr-Puch.
Years of Production
First produced in 1957, this line of quirky little cars didn’t stop there. Post-war Italy loved the unconventional small design of the vehicle, and by 1975, driving a Fiat 500 was many Italians’ favourite things to do in Tuscany and all over the country, with nearly four million on the road.
Following the original launch, the company introduced a sporting version of the vehicle, followed by a model with a partial sunroof, newer doors and more. Later versions featured reclining seats, carpeting and a larger, more powerful engine.
An Icon Today
In 2007, the company announced the car’s fiftieth anniversary celebration with the release of a modern version of the car, complete with a front-mounted engine, a central dashboard and a host of personalised options for colour, trim and more.
Today, the legendary automobile retains many of the classical elements of the original make, but includes modern conveniences like LED running lights, Xenon headlights and eco-friendly engines for lower emissions.
Try it Yourself
Now that you’re up-to-date on the history and lore of this legendary Italian car, why not take one out for a spin yourself? There are some excellent tour companies that allow visitors the opportunity to experience the fun and freedom of sitting behind the wheel of a Fiat 500. Your visit to Tuscany will truly be something for the memory books.
There’s a reason why the Fiat 500 has had so much success – from its humble post-war roots to its status as a legendary vehicle today, it’s clear that cruising around in one of these cars remains a popular pastime and really is up there with the best things to do in Tuscany. Enjoy your ride along the Italian countryside in one of the country’s most loved inventions. Buon viaggio!
Author Plate Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy including a host of things to do in Tuscany. Whether you want to ride a Vintage Vespa, try the famous Chianti wine or get cooking with fresh local ingredients, Mauro's company promises excitement, adventure and above all, fun. If you're keen to experience the magic of Italy with the help of some passionate and knowledgeable tour guides, look no further than WalkAbout Florence for your next getaway.
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