Take a FIAT 500 tour in Italy

See Italy from a Fiat 500
A classic Fiat 500 for rent from Chianticlassiccar.com

Tool around Rome or Tuscany in a classic FIAT 500 on these guided tours

Yes, there are Fiat 500s in America now—thanks to the Italian auto company Fiat having purchased Chrysler—but nothing beats the old models from the 1960s and 70s.

And yes, Italy has Ferraris and Masteratis and Lamborghinis and Alfa Romeos... but it also has cute-as-a-button Fiat 500s ("fee-yaht cheen-qway-CHEN-toh"), just as much an automotive icon of Italy as any of those sleek sports cars.

What's more, scoring a ride in a 500 is waaay cheap than renting a trip in a Ferrari.

Normally, it's tough to rent a classic Fiat 500 (though a few boutique agencies will do if for a premium, such as Tuscany's www.chianticlassiccar.com outside Florence and www.slowhills.com near Siena), so the only easy way to get a ride in one is to hire a Fiat 500 with a private driver and guide to take you on a tour or Rome, or drive your own Fiat 500 as part of a day-tripping caravan into the Tuscan hills outside Florence.

Since it was first introduced in the 1950s, the tiny but curvaceous "cinquecento" ("five hundred") has been the Italian version of a VW bug—chronically underpowered but delightfully whimsical, a car for getting where you're going at a reasonable speed... so long as it's not too fast.

The classic cinquecentos are just ridiculously cute, with their sardine-lid soft tops that can slide back.

Here's how you can score your own ride in this Italian icon.

Duration: 3–4 hours
Cost: From $202 per person
Book: Book it

Private Tour: Rome Sightseeing by Vintage Fiat 500

Take a unique tour of Rome by classic Fiat 500 car with a private driver who will (with the excption of the "Hills of Rome: tour) pick you up at your Rome hotel for a sightseeing tour. Options:

  • City Highlights: This 4-hour tour covers top Rome attractions including the Colosseum, Circus Maximus and the Arch of Constantine. Cars aren't permitted in Rome's historic center, but you'll drive close by the area before taking a walk around Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.
  • Hills of Rome: Combine history and adventure on this 4-hour tour! Learn about the famous Seven Hills of Rome and see landmarks like the Baths of Caracalla on Caelian Hill and enjoy city views from Palatine and Capitoline hills.
  • Off the Beaten Path: On this 4-hour tour, discover off-the-beaten-path attractions and cool neighborhoods. Explore the vibrant districts of Trastevere and Testaccio before peering through the Aventine Keyhole for a snapshot view of St Peter's Basilica. See countless places that the tourist maps miss.
  • City Highlights by Night: Take this 3-hour night tour and visit all the key sites like the Colosseum, Aventine Hill and Vatican City. Stop for a walk around Rome's historic center and see the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain illuminated at night.
Duration: 5 hours
Cost: $195 per person
Book: Book it

Private Tour: Self-Drive Vintage Fiat 500 Tour from Florence with Candlelit Dinner at a Tuscan Villa

Live the romance of 1960s Italy as you drive a vintage Fiat 500 to a luxury Tuscan villa for a private candlelit dinner! On this private evening tour from Florence, you’ll follow an expert guide through the bewitching Tuscan countryside, where you’ll see the sun set as you drive. On arrival at the luxury villa, relax over a 4-course Tuscan meal with wine, served by a private butler. It’s the perfect evening for any special occasion, be that an end-of-vacation meal, anniversary or even a romantic proposal...

Duration: 5 hours
Cost: $137 per person
Book: Book it

Self-Drive Vintage Fiat 500 Tour from Florence: Tuscan Villa and Picnic Lunch

Drive a vintage Fiat 500 to a gorgeous 15th-century Renaissance villa nestled in the picturesque Tuscan hills just outside of Florence. Traveling in a convoy behind an expert guide, you’ll drive along quiet private roads and then enjoy 2.5 hours at leisure. Swim in the villa’s pool, indulge in a picnic lunch with wine tasting, or perhaps upgrade to include a winemaking session—an, yes, this is the one where they let you stomp the grapes with your feet. (OK, so no one actually does that anymore—terribly unsanitary—but anyone who has ever watched I Love Lucy has a secret, burning desire to try it, just once, even if it is just for tourists.)...

Duration: 5 hours
Cost: $93 per person
Book: Book it

Self-Drive Vintage Fiat 500 Tour from Florence: Tuscan Wine Experience

Combine a vintage Fiat 500 tour with a Tuscan wine experience on an exciting day out from Florence! Driving a classic 1960s model, you’ll travel in a convoy following an expert guide into the picture-perfect hills of Tuscany. After arriving at a 15th-century villa and wine estate, you’ll participate in one of two wine tours: either a wine-tasting session and vineyard tour, or a winemaking experience where you’ll meet the head winemaker and stomp on the grapes (see above for a disclaimer on that)...

Duration: 4 hours
Cost: $111 per person
Book: Book it

Self-Drive Vintage Fiat 500 Tour from Florence: Tuscan Hills and Italian Cuisine

Step back to 1960s Italy as you drive an eye-catching vintage Fiat 500 car through Tuscany! Following a guide out of Florence, drive into the lush Tuscan hills, passing through picturesque villages and attracting nostalgic glances from admiring passersby. Your 4-hour tour ends in the best possible way – with a relaxing meal on a private terrace. This unique Florence tour is limited to five cars (with 15 people total), ensuring you'll enjoy a small-group experience. Fiat 500s sprung onto the Italian motoring scene in the late 1950s as a stylish yet affordable vehicle. Ever popular, modern Fiat 500s are frequent sights on Florence’s streets, but the vintage models are harder to find. Luckily for you, you'll drive one of these rare classics -- a lovingly restored 1960s model -- on your Fiat 500 tour of Tuscany...

(Pointless personal side note: I was lucky enough to ride around my American hometown in a vintage 1950s Fiat 500 around ages 8 to 10. A neighbor who gave his daughter and me a weekly ride to a shared after-school activity drove a cinquecento that he had brought over new—illegally, since the old ones didn't meet emissions standards—when he emigrated. He also had also put an arc of chrome letters on the back that spelled "P-O-R-S-C-H-E," and I was young-and-stupid enough to believe it.)

Tips & links

Driving tips and rules

Remember: It's not that Italian drivers are crazy. it's that they are aggresive—and they know the rules (both traffic laws and the unwritten social rules of Italian motoring)... and you do not.

Make sure you follow the rules of the road in Italy and adhere to these safe driving tips.

Useful links & resources
Book ahead

While for some activities you can just show up, this is one travel item you really should try to reserve in advance.

Popular activities like cooking classes can sell out.

Many are available only on certain days of the week, so it pays to know that you'll have to set aside, say, Tuesday morning for that guided market walk with a local cookbook author.

Many of the best activities are available by advance booking or appointment only—particularly wineries. Some vineyards welcome walk-ins, true, but many more will give you a cellar tour and wine tasting only if you call ahead a few days (and those tend to be the ones most liberal with the free samples).

If you have your heart set on dining in a particular restaurant, go ahead and call ahead,even if it's just earlier on the same day—though a day ahead is preferable. I have found that a corrollary of Muphy's Law applies to this aspect of travel. Any restaurant I am particularly keen on but blithely assume I can just waltz into will inevitably be filled to the brim: no tables available. However, half the time when I do book a table in advance I'll end up being the only guy in the place (nor near enough for my advance booking to feel like overkill). Still, better safe than sorry. Reserving a table is quick and painless; getting turned away at the door can be crushing.

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