August 03 2010
Mark C O’Flaherty
On holiday in Sicily recently, I discovered the most charming, and quintessentially Italian way to tour the beautiful east coast. Two brothers, Antonio and Sergio Alessandro Di Giovanni, and their cousin Danilo, have bought nine vintage Fiat 500s, in a variety of colours, and restored them to their 1960s glory. Since the end of last year they have been organising convoy tours in them (from €149 per car). Each car carries a walkie-talkie, and you follow the leader on a themed, narrated, itinerary – perhaps a wine tour around Mount Etna (the area is home to some increasingly good vintners), or maybe a tour of some of the filming locations for the Godfather movies.
You can also hire one of the cars and create your own itinerary (from €299 for the weekend), which is what I did – meandering along the coastline from Catania to the glossy and picturesque seaside town of Taormina, where two bellboys at the San Domenico Palace Hotel gave me a thumbs up in unison as I parked alongside the Mercs and hailed gleefully: “Cinquecento! Number one car in the world!”
Don’t expect too much in the way of leg room, air conditioning or even passenger-side wing mirrors, but do expect to fall in love with this most classic of cars while you drive it through some of the best scenery in Europe.