Whenever most men talk about cars their faces light up and they start talking about bumpers and wing mirrors and design and speed with great pasdion. The mere mention of Alfa Romeo, Ferrari or Lamborghini and in their imaginations they are off . Steering cars at a lively pace round mountain passes or hugging the shores of a lake with impressive skill. As long as my car is reliable, doesn't make funny noises and is full of petrol it makes me more than happy. Today I saw a rally of FIAT vintage cars. There were lots of FIAT 500s. Seeing them reminded me of when I first went to Rome over forty years ago. Then the streets were lined with FIAT 500s , parked all over the place, higgledy piggledy , if someone got blocked in they just gave a good- natured toot of the horn and the owner appeared and removed it with a cheerful wave. It was the only car I remember seeing. Today the owners of all these vintage cars talked about them lovingly and proudly, willingly receiving compliments about the condition of the bodywork and chrome. Lots of the cars were a good ten years or so older than their owners. Everybody seemed to have a story to tell about their adventures in an old FIAT car.
My story makes me sound a bit of a twit , but I'll tell it anyway. When I first came to Italy and my grasp of the language was poor, my mother- in- law was reminiscing about her life during the war. She told me that before the war she had enough money in old lire in her savings account to buy a topolino which means a little mouse. After the war her money had devalued so much she couldn't afford one anymore. Well this a sounded very sweet to me, that she would want a little mouse so badlly. After all I had a yearned for a hamster. Then someone explained that a Topolino was the name of a little car. There was one on display today and the owners treated it like a member of their family. All the time the Italian flag unfurled in the wind above us. These FIAT cars have accompanied Italians faithfully through the years and have been looked after like greatly loved pets as everyone admired them and discussed their loyal nature.