Sicily, and a Little Old Red Car

August 14, 2011

1969 Red Fiat 500 in Vizzini, Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Wouldn’t you love to own this baby?

“I’ve been trying to persuade him for a long time,” says the man in green, “but he won’t sell.”

We’re in the main piazza of a hill town called Vizzini.

“How old?” I ask the owner.


“Forty-two years old,” says the man in green, wistfully. “But he won’t sell her.”

“You have to be a mechanic like me,” says the owner, “to have a car like this.”

“He won’t sell her to me,” the man repeats. “I keep offering more and more money.”

“I wouldn’t sell her for all the money in the world.”  The mechanic runs his hand over her curves and grins.

1969 Fiat 500 in Vizzini, Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga


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31 comments to Sicily, and a Little Old Red Car

  • Just the other day I was sharing the husband , my wish to have a lil red car and this lil Fiat looks like a replica of one I’ve imagined ..ohhh I’d never sell her if I owned her -she’s a beauty ..

  • I think the car should have a name. And now that I think of it, there was a name for it, but I cannot remember, something about mouse. A diminutive, I’m sure, unless I’m thinking of something made shortly after the war. Maybe the mechanic knows.

    • Jann

      Yes, Susan–they’re called Topolino, lilttle mouse, I think, after Mickey. Can anyone confirm? I’ve heard Sicilians call their kids “Topolino” too.

  • Linda

    Isn’t Vizzini nice? When you are in the park looking over the valley you would expect the sea there. cute car,good in town. I have a cream colored 500 that needs a new home. Love your photos.

    • Jann

      Vizzini IS a nice old hill town that feels quite “untouched.” You’re trying to sell your 500? Where are you located, Linda?

    • Linda

      I live in Ortigia and Noto. have been in the Noto/Avola area since 2006 and spent the last year living in the city here in Ortigia. Next month we start to redo our place outside of Noto. I need to be a little bit more rural sometimes and Ortigia, lovely as it is ,becomes too much in the summer months.
      I don’t think the car deserves the punishment of the strada bianca and I probably will sell it . It is cream colored. I would love to keep it if I could send it to “pimp my ride” (the purists cringe) They are cute but only if you have another practical car. for the city I prefer the scooter.
      Love your kitchen by the way. I have real appliance envy!

    • Jann

      Two wonderful places to live… Walking around Ortigia this summer I had an urge to buy! (Though it IS hot.) Good luck with your renovation outside of Noto–sounds like fun!

  • Oh Jann, how utterly lovely this little Fiat! I can understand why he wouldn’t sell such a gem! Not too long ago there was one similar to this one in one of the adjoining streets close to my house, only it was orange! Every day when Roxy and I would walk by, I would sigh. Sadly, it was sold and now I just look nostalgically at the spot it used to be in!

  • Beautiful photo of an adorable car. I can see why he won’t sell. That’s the size car that fits right in it Italy to make it down all those narrowest of the narrow roads and parking spots. Love the post.

  • Gian Banchero

    I think of these vehicles as “clown cars”, on several occasions I’ve seen whole families exit them: Mamma, Papa’, children plus a Nonna or two. Just looking at one puts a broad smile on my face.

    • Jann

      Hi Gian, that’s funny that you call them clown cars–they do have that crazy-toy- I-belong-in-a-circus look.

  • cemal karahan

    Brigh orange one…ok…! People who like orange color are so intimate, good-hearted, well-balanced , lovely, affectionate….!very good people..! They are ready to show forgiveness at once….They do not have hatred…When they get angry, they do not yell, scream whatsoever, but this doesn’t mean that they can be knocked out, tortured, or disqualified..etc.. They show no tolerance then, and defend their rights without offending their opponents….! Funny translation from what I have just read from a cpecific place in the net…Love Jann…..!

  • John Schinina

    Hi Jann, In late Sept 1959, I was driving my leased Red 500 Fiat from Ragusa Ibla to upton on the back road with 4 friend, when I suddenly went into a skid, hitting a Tractor Trail which demolished the car. That car was designed very well, all the windows pop-th off, causing no injuries. The Photo brought back that day. Yes I was speeding, however speeding is normal driving in Italy.
    Thanks Jann

    • Jann

      Oh my goodness, John. I’m not sure you really wanted me to remind you of that incident! How lucky you were in your little red 500. I didn’t know that those cars could “speed!” (And yes, I agree that speeding is normal driving in Italy–if you’re going slow you’ll get run off the road!)

  • Cathy you have my hubby’s attention… But I agree its a cute little car!

  • cemal karahan

    Yes, that is just for the old island and its narrow streets…like a motorbike..!The ones who own red cars are said to be ambitious, the experts say…! He wouldn’t sell it….!

    • Jann

      I’ve never heard that about people who drive red cars, Cemal. Funny! My mother once bought a bright orange one–I wonder what that means?

  • —runs his fingers over her curves … O0000h, Sexy.

    • Jann

      In Italian, car is feminine (la macchina), and they do talk about them like they’re women. Thanks for commenting, My Inner Chick!

  • lucy

    i wouldn’t sell her either…beautiful

  • Sam

    I think there should be an international standard for cuteness in cars, and no car should be allowed to be less cute than this red Fiat.

  • One of the rare instances in which I understand car lust.

    • Jann

      yes, louciao, I’m the same–can’t tell one car from another, but I love this and the mini-cooper.

  • Dennis Berry

    I was in Indianapolis last week and saw a Fiat Dealership. They had the 2011
    version of the ” Cinquecento”. I was disappointed the salesman did not know
    where the FIAT name came from.

    • Jann

      OK, Dennis–since I was equally ignorant about the name, I Googled it:

      FIAT, or Fabbrica Itailana Automobili Torino, was formed in a 1903 takeover of Ceirano, which had been founded in 1901 to make cars under Renault licence using a deDion engine.

  • catherine billups

    Love this car.

  • Hi Jann, That is just precious! What a beautiful little car. John has quite a soft spot for them. 🙂

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