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Random street parked cars of Italy

Kamil Kaluski September 20, 2018 Redusernab Goes To... 12 Comments

This summer vacation my family and I traveled to Italy. Specifically, we visited Rome and points north, specifically Tuscany or Bologna. In the four days we spent in Rome we did all touristy things you can name: Coliseum, Pantheon, the Vatican, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and numerous restaurants and coffee shops. Then, thanks to you, loyal readers, I rented a van and we traveled north to Siena. From Siena we did day trips to historic town such as Volterra, Orvieto, Pisa, Lucca, and others. 

Now I, being a car dork, also looked more than just at really cool old stuff. In between the old stuff were cool cars. Some were old, some were interesting, and some were cool. I took random shots of what I thought was interesting to share with you. Now if you’ve never been to Italy most cars there would be interesting to you but I limited to somewhat unconventional vehicles. 

The streets of Rome are incredibly tight. Conventional cars can easily navigate the major streets but getting to the tight areas requires really small delivery vehicles. Various Piaggio commercial vehicles were most popular. Some were new, some were older than the Coliseum, but they were all cool. 

Fiat 500XL were the most popular taxi models. Sure, the 500L is kind of ugly but the 500XL is even worse. 

Ready to trade in your F-150?

I spotted a few of these practical and reliable Japanese vans but most vans were Italian or other European brands. 

I was really amazing the Roman police cars. There was almost no standard issue vehicle, it’s like they bought whatever they got the best deal on. 

The Carabinieri were more selective in their vehicles, sticking mostly to Fiat vans and Alfa cars. I saw a Carabinieri Defender, too. 

Throughout Rome military vehicles were station. Around them were soldiers armed with some serious weaponry. I was told that the terrorist threat was rather high. 

The only Subaru I saw was this Rome police version. There is just no standard police vehicle. 

Fellow in a Piaggio “pickup truck” making morning deliveries. This vehicle has a single-beam axle. 

Sometimes you just gotta fix things quickly. 

There was a number of Minis around, almost as much as the classic Fiat 500. 

My heart was warmed by the huge amount of Pandas. They were especially popular in Tuscany. 

Some French cars, too. 

There were so many Pandas at one point I just stopped taking pictures of them. 

When you go on a holiday, pick your vehicle wisely. This guy did. 

One of the few 405s I’ve seen. 

I’ve never seen a Renault Wind before. It’s reminded me of a Del Sol but more French and way weirder. 

Spotted this Radwood-ready Cabriolet parked in an old section of Orvietto. I have no idea where the license plates are from. 

Ze Germans traveled in this old pig to Siena. 

There is more Defenders in Boston than there but I still like them, so I photographed them. 

Scooters EVERYWHERE!!

One of my favorite motorcycles of all time. 

This old Range Rover stuck out like crazy in the sea of small cars. 

Pandas everywhere. I saw a really cool 4×4 one but missed taking its pic. 

Work duty Defenders don’t exist in U.S. 

The only Focus RS I saw. It must be a great vehicle for the hilly and twisty Tuscan roads. More Pandas.  

The classic 500 is now more of attraction than anything. Few still use them for daily driving. 

I hope someone saves this Renault 4. 

This one was driven by an elderly gentleman who happened to live near one of the biggest squares in a little town.  

On the other side of this alley was a parking lot. The driver of this van had only a few inches on each side. 

Scooters everywhere. I never knew there was such a huge size difference between Vespas until I saw these two. I missed the fact that I was near the Vespa factory and museum which bummed me out. 

Main street of an old section of town. I saw this new Fiat approach and then stop. The driver got out and opened the almost invisible garage door on the passenger side of the car. 

Then in two smooth moves, he got the not-so-little Fiat sideways on the narrow street and backed it the  into the tiny garage. I don’t know what other vehicles that are available on the U.S. market could do that. 

Opel!

Military armored Iveco. Yes, please. 

These were all over Rome. 

I was surprised to see handful of Harley in Rome. They looked huge next to most other bikes. And even next to some cars, as seen above. 

SmartCars came in all flavors. Europeans are willing to spend good money on tiny cars. That is because some need tiny cars but can afford the fancy features of bigger vehicles. 

  • SlowJoeCrow

    Cool stuff. Were the Defenders diesel powered? One of the oddball Landrovers was a Defender 90 with a 2.0 liter gasoline fueled 4 from the Rover 800 that was special ordered by the Carabinieri and may have been sold retail as a tax dodge (2.0 liters is a common tax cutoff)
    The civvy Defender with the winch looks like a post 2007 model with the Ford Transit diesel and the new dash with eyeball vents.

    • No idea. The Carabinieri one went by too quick and the others were parked.

      • outback_ute

        I think since the late 1990s there have been essentially no petrol Defenders

        • crank_case

          They shoehorned Jag V8s into the last of line specials, but pretty much everyone who bought a Defender since the 90s went diesel, no real performance downgrade over the old Rover V8.

  • wunno sev

    so I was also in italy this summer, and while I had a great time looking at all the Pandas and Panda 4x4s and new Pandas, one thing I noticed is that most Italians, from what I can tell, dgaf about their cars. like, there’s a decent number of Ferraris etc around, but I saw just about zero modified cars, and the vast majority of not-luxury cars were *intensely* mundane. nobody cared about them beyond their utility as transport.

    which made me wonder! are the rules really restrictive? is it just not worth it given how beat up the cars get? do most Italians just not care for cars at all?

    • Sjalabais

      I guess it also depends on where you go. One thing are the rules, another is the money required to do weird stuff to cars. Italy has struggled a fair bit economically for a while now, and especially young people are not getting a foothold in the labour market. If you are among the third or so millennials who neither have steady employment nor a home of your own, modifying your ride, if you even have one, is not priority #1. Things may be different in the industrious North.

    • jim

      “are the rules really restrictive?”
      Yes. Just as they are really lax in America.

    • crank_case

      Annual road tax or “Bollo” is very punitive in Italy, more so in some cases than even Ireland, which is no joke itself. It used to go on engine size, which is why you had Italy only specials like 2 litre turbo Ferrari 308s, it now goes on CO2 emissions and ranges from €900 to €3000 a year (the Irish system is similar but starts at €120 for zero emissions vehichles to €2300 for high CO2 vehicles).

      Italians like the French, don’t seem to give a damn about their cars, every car wears battle scars, parking is a sport.

      Modifcation rules in Italy are stupidly strict too, it’s almost impossible to do any sort of meaningful mods to a car. France is the same.

      Irelands a weird middle ground, there’s not much in the way of specific restrictions, but when you bring your car for testing or try to insure it, the reaction of the insurance/civil service drone tends to be DOES NOT COMPUTE *head explodes*

    • Maymar

      I also wonder if the gearhead types are more attracted to two wheels over there (lower cost of entry, easier to find parking, the climate is reasonably welcoming to it, and other drivers are more likely to expect something other than cars on the road).

  • neight428

    I did the tourist thing in Tuscany a while back, 2006-ish driving a 5-spd manual equipped diesel Ford Focus hatchback, way better than the US spec Focus at the time, in every way. The streets in the quaint little towns on top of hills nominally allow for motor vehicles, but you do seem to need something the size of a Vespa to make some of the switchback turns. I got to use my handbrake/clutch slip technique through an 8 point turn on one really tight uphill that I underestimated, but I did save the sheet metal. That may have been where I drove between the tables of an outdoor café too. Not sure I was supposed to do that.

  • jim

    “Spotted this Radwood-ready Cabriolet parked in an old section of Orvietto. I have no idea where the license plates are from.”

    Standard issue 1994-1999 plate

    And speaking of police vehicles, you missed a museum dedicated to them, right there in Rome:


  • Manic_King

    I was also in Italy couple of weeks ago and thing that I noticed was how few new Fiats I saw, they have tough times and car sales is probably down heavily but when they buy new it’s not Fiat. French, German , Korean but not Italian. Fiat is van co., basically. I saw some nicer cars too, in Forte dei Marmi and near Modena and Maranello. And in Lambo and Ferrari museums of course. Lambo museum was smaller but had also interesting cars, and engines. I also decided to snap pic of RAM as streetscape didn’t felt that unusual. That truck was very strange thing to see in Italy, among all the small cars it looked huge.