IEDEI is back after a week away in Italy. The purpose of this trip was not car-related, but as a vacation for my wife and I to get away from the busy NYC days and to check out Italy for the first time. Firstly, we loved Italy for its superb food, beautiful historical city and landscapes, lovely people, and it’s good vibes. I had originally planned to drive for a few days within Italy, however due to our short itinerary, we decided that using the superb Eurostar train system there seemed optimal and most efficient. The trains are of course very comfortable, and very easy to use—and I highly recommend them to anyone traveling through Italy or the rest of western Europe.
Here are a list of some basic observations I made about motoring and cars in Italy from a passenger point of view.
1. People have very eccentric parking habits in Rome—-pretty much makes NYC parking look like a regulated, organized affair.
2. The freeways are very tame, boring affairs—-similar to freeways anywhere else, including the US.
3. I would say 95% of the cars seen parked and driving consist of small, slow, functional economy hatchbacks.
4. In 7 days in Italy, through 4 cities (Roma, Firenze, Napoli, and Capri)—- i did not see a SINGLE Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, pre-1990 Alfa Romeo, pre-1990 Lancia, or pre-1990 Fiat. I was shocked at the lack of interesting Italian cars present there. I can honestly say that the most interesting cars I saw in Italy were a couple Alfa Romeo Breras, a bunch of fanastic Audis not readily seen in US markets(A1, S3, A3 Roadster, B8 S4 Avant, A4 Allroad), many Alfa Romeo 159s (which are much more beautiful in person than even the photos show), and ONE Alfa Romeo 147 GTA and ONE Alfa Romeo GTV (mid 90s version).
5. I spoke with a guy who was working at a Lancia repair centre, and asked him what he thought of the ‘new’ Lancias (like the Ypsilon) and he said “Lancia has not been Lancia for many years”—to which i completely agreed with him. When i asked him why Italians don’t drive ‘older’ Alfas and Lancias he told me “because it is not easy to drive an older Alfa or Lancia everyday in our cities, and many of the cars have broken and are gone”. I think this summed up the situation pretty well. Sad for classic cars in Italy then…..
6. I started wanting to buy a small hatchback. Even the absolutely terrible Lancia Ypsilon started to look alright to me after a week there—-but then i stopped drinking and remembered how rubbish it is. The ‘newer’ Alfa Romeo Mito and Alfa Romeo Giuliettas are very cool little cars…..the Giuletta is very beautiful in person, and would love to see it make it over to the US market. It has a lot more presence on the road than most hatchbacks its size. The Mito is the perfect Alfa answer to the small hatchback italian solution—-however I was shocked to see that the pricing on the Mito starts at 16k Euros and goes all the way into the low 20k range. The Audi A1 is a simply stunning example of a hatchback, beautifully proportioned, very stylish, and very well put together.
7. My wife commented that Audis parked there looked more Italian than Italian cars there…and I have to say that probably rings true for the modern cars being sold in Italy. Plenty of Audis there, as the Italians have picked up on the styling as well, and have bought into it. I would say that 1 out of every 3 ‘nice’ cars seems to be an Audi. This pleased my Audiphile tendencies, of course!
8. Word is, that the Alfa Romeo Museum has been shut for good——at least that’s what somebody told me there. I was not planning on visiting it on this trip anyways, however it seems that it was closed a couple of months ago for renovation, and there are no plans to re-open it—-which would be an absolute shame of course.
9. Fiats are definitely the most popular cars in Italy—–i’d say 6 to 1 over everything else.
10. Traffic is slow, pedestrians are plenty, traffic rules are not obeyed all the time, however I found it actually less chaotic than NYC driving—-at least from a passenger seat. The problem here in NYC is the amount of speed people carry on the roads; whereas in Italy, I didn’t seen people bustling in speed—at least not in the 4 cities I went to.
A couple random photos:
I did happen to stumble upon a ‘motoring’ channel on the Italian cable TV during our last night stay in Rome, where they showed 24 hour coverage of weird obscure motoring events around Italy—pretty cool I have to say! GTV InterMotori
Welcome back. I must say you mirrored my observations too. Rather weak on the car front with crazy drivers in Rome. I hope you and your better half had fun. Miss my 1/4 liter of wine at lunch. 😉
ha! true…thanks…i miss my morning birra! i didn’t find Rome drivers to be as crazy as i was expecting….but maybe that’s because i find NYC drivers to be just as chaotic….i think i was expecting more Bombay-like—-i think that was the maddest driving I have ever witnessed…..
If you want to see Italian or German supercars, you’ll have to go where the money is – i.e. Munich, London or other European metropolis.
For example, I saw a Ferrari Daytona (what a noise!!), a 458 and a 430 convertible with a ridiculous bodykit, an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and a Merc CLK Black in Munich today. All that within a few hours (of which I spent most of the time in a Library).
Although Italy is the home of many desirable car manufacturers, very few people actually drive these cars there. On the one hand, people are just not that wealthy or, on the other hand, consider cars less of a status symbol… and it will get bumps and scratches pretty soon anyway, so the don’t bother in the first place.