Ah spring. When the first tiny Fiats pop up.

Midge and her Fiat 500C come out on a spring day

It is a sure sign of Spring in Maine when motorcycles and convertibles peek out from under their winter covers. Last week, inspired by day after blissful day of seventies and sunshine weather, some of us even took the snow tires off our daily drivers. And coaxed their little red Fiat and little green Ape out of the barn where they’d been happily hibernating.

And, of course, it snowed and snowed last night.

But all those early, and fleeting signs of spring, certainly do have us counting the days until we arrive in Umbria. Look out Panicale, here we come, ready or not.

By the way. We ARE ready!

We miss our roses when we are apart. And, in truth they do only come out for a week or two. But what they lack in longevity they make up for abundance and punctuality. They spread out over the pergola in a sea of yellow, regular as clockwork on May Day. And this year, on May first, we’ll be there when they come out.


Here are our Lady Banks Roses on Display on a typical but magical May day a year or so ago in Umbria.

And here is May Day luncheon outside Siena (with our buddy Al Fresco and a few of his fair weather friends) at the Spannocchia estate in nearby Tuscany.

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

New Fiat: First the hard drive. Then the test drive.

PORTLAND, ITALY – We’re not really in Italy but standing at a Fiat dealership surrounded by a sea of new Fiat 500s, it’s not hard to imagine you are on right side of the pond. Quirk Fiat of Portland has them lined up as far as you can see in every color. But all Midge can see are the shiny red ones. Ooooh, tops go down? midgefiat

We are there partially so our buddy Roberta of Torino who has worked at Fiat for ten years, can see where the rubber hits the road here at Fiat USA. (You’ll maybe recall, she started all this by bringing us that 500 shaped removable hard drive.) We’re also trading test drive vehicles with our friends the Turinas. Paul, imports his family’s wines from Italy: Turina Italian Wines. He has had one of about every kind of Italian car made. We’re just a bunch of Italians at an Italian car dealership on our way to pasta night out at Paciarino’s Italian restaurant. Owners are Italians from Milano. Did you notice how I tried to slide a renegade pair of Vreelands in with the bonafide Italians? Big old wannabes we are. I know, sad really isn’t it? We try.


Check out that soft Fiat in the showroom. It’s a car cover. Can you believe? Too cute. But alas, too pricey. The Fiats are not expensive. But putting one of those covers over your Fiat is going to be. Over $900 with taxes. Gulp. Ma puo darsi va le la pena perche carina al massimo. And way cute.

OK, see you in Italy!

Stew Vreeland

The new Fiat is here.

newfiat4PORTLAND, ME–Our friend Roberta is here from Torino, Italy. We’ve known her forever. She lived with us for a year, many years ago. For the last ten years she’s worked for Fiat. She arrived here August 1st, the day they started promo’ing the new Fiat 500.

I’ve always wanted a Cinquecento. I fantasize that we could even squeeze one in our cantina in Panicale. But, mainly its just fun to say “cinquecento.” Usually the ones you see now in Italy are the cool tricked-out survivors, and they are often hyper-cool. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, and Fiat has worked it hard on these new ones. Rightly so.

Check out the fine bit of branded swag she scored for me. Very fuel efficient. And like any fine vehicle it has good storage. Two megs in this case.

Just for fun (and because Midge insists) we’re going to check out the real ones tomorrow afternoon. Last month, during the Italian Expo, the dealer had three and they were all locked-in, not for sale, demos. Today they say they’ve got a 100 of the 500’s. We will see, test drive and report back.

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

The Italians are coming, the Italians are coming . . .

What would the world be without an Italy? Discuss among yourselves and get back to me? I was thinking about this after having pizza at a seminar yesterday, penne pasta primavera last night at home and on my way for a shhh-don’t-tell-the-office cappucchino breakout this morning. When! What to my wondering eyes should appear but a brand new Fiat 500. Parked right next to me. What a trick pony that is. The owner was getting his haircut when they saw me taking his car’s portrait and salon emptied and we had a moment there. Fiat execs would have been misty-eyed at the enthusiasm over their new baby. This one is a limited edition. Edition of 500. Wicked cool.
And of course that reminded me that the Italian Life Expo team just got confirmation yesterday that a literal boat load of Italian products got onboard in Genoa. And that ship has sailed! Wines, olive oils, copper and ceramic wares all pointed towards Portland, Maine. The Italians they belong to are probably packing their bags as we speak. The countdown is well underway, let the festivities begin. Got your tickets? June 9-11 on Portland’s waterfront.

To keep up with the details about this happy bit of Italy coming to our shores Follow the Expo on Twitter and/or “Like” their Facebook page

See you in Italy (when Italy comes to Portland!)

Stew Vreeland