Posted by: debrakolkka | March 16, 2011

Look out for this green Panda

the green Panda

I swear I see this car everyday when I am out driving the treacherous roads in Italy.  It invariably gets in front of me and drives at 45 kph, while long lines of angry Italians form behind me and the car behind me sits 3 centimetres from my bumperbar. I would like to install a heavy bull bar at the back and stop suddenly on occasion to give them the fright they deserve.

I recently had my 17 year old Finnish cousin staying with me and he was horrified by the driving here. From what he says, Finns, much like Australians, generally follow the road rules. Following road rules is quite a good idea, especially when they are designed to help keep you alive.

For instance, a double solid line on a curve in a tunnel lets you know it is not a good idea to overtake the car in front. I respect this rule and stay on my side of the road.

Not so in Italy. Just the other day a car behind us zoomed out across the double line, on a curve, in a tunnel, overtook us and 2 other cars and made it across to the right side of the road in front of a truck with centimetres to spare. My cousin and I said “Oh shit” at the same time. Not a day goes by that I don’t have an “Oh shit” moment on the road here.

And it often involves a green Panda. They must have made a heck of a lot of these cars or the one in the picture gets around a lot.

Click here for another story about driving in Italy. It also involves a green car.


  1. The only thing I really remember about my trip to Italy at age 16 was being terrified by the traffic in Rome.. 😉

    • I wouldn’t even think about driving in Rome. It is completely terrifying.

  2. I bet the driver wears a hat! all slow drivers do

    • Ape drivers almost always have a hat on – and a wife squeezed in beside them.

  3. I think I drove at 45 in Italy too. Am I right in thinking lanes are narrower there?

    • Yes, they are way too narrow for 2 lanes, but somehow trucks manage to pass each other without incident, but not always.

  4. Sounds terrifying. Do you often see accidents?

    • Surprisingly few, but we see lots of close calls. The road toll here is very high and there is no surprise there.

  5. I’ve always said that green cars are bad news. Apologies to anyone that has one. But maybe it’s time to change color.

    • Green is my favourite colour, but I have never had a green car. We have a baby blue Fiat 500 in Australia and a silver (like everyone else) Toyota here. I would never choose silver, but it was our only option at the time.

  6. Hehe well Finns do drive rather wildly too! It’s the rally car driver within I think 😛

    • The roads in Finland are so much wider than in Italy and there are far fewer cars on the road. We didn’t feel unsafe in Finland at all. Fast is OK if the conditions are good.

  7. Hi Deb,

    I have been going to ask you something for ages, so here goes. — When we were staying in your area in Sept, we often caught the bus from Bar Italia to Lucca at 0650. While waiting for the bus a large man driving a small green 3 wheeled car with a large cigar in his mouth would drive through Ponte a Serraglio heading towards La Villa. It was a hilarious sight. He almost took up the entire seat. We saw him many times. We laughed and laughed. Have you seen him in his little green car? Loved it.

    Cheers Judy.

    • Yes, I have seen this man. He is almost as big as his car, you wonder how he gets in it.

  8. It’s a grey and dreary day in the Big TO but reading this entry (and the link to that really spiffy green car thrown up on the sidewalk) made me laugh, smile and shake my head all at the same time. ‘Solo in Italia’. Grazie.

    • Yes, only in Italy. It is raining and dreary here too.

  9. Nice colour green though, sort of eau de nil – restful – maybe it compensates for the driver’s temperament. He/she might be even worse if he drove a red car or one of those siren yellow cars that Fiat do!

  10. No that makes no sense does it? What I meant was maybe the colour explains his temperament and his slow driving…

    • There are so many cars like this, and I didn’t even mention the Ape drivers.

  11. Debra you are a brave woman to take on Italian traffic. I think if I was driving it would be a whole string of ‘oh shit’ moments continually rolling off my tongue starting from putting on my seatbelt, (are seatbelts still an optional extra for passengers in Italia?)

    • More people are wearing seatbelts, but I am still horrified to see children standing on the back seat leaning into the front. The driver will have a seatbelt on, but leave children unrestrained.

  12. Poor little green car. You can just tell that it doesn’t like being honked at and sworn at. It really wants to be fire engine red and driven by a rally driver, but ..alas, here it is dejected and helpless. Its only hope is to be gathered up by the RSPCC.

    • I think that would be the ISPCC. Yes the poor little thing does look a bit dejected, I’ll give it a pat next time I see it and perhaps a saucer of oil. Glad to have you back commenting.

  13. I had no idea Italy was only 150 years ‘old’. Learn something new everyday

    • Italy is surprising in so many ways.

  14. Love your post. My American wife and I used to drive from Geneva, Switzerland to Bagni, through twisting tunnels and over terrifying viaducts in Liguria, between Genova and Viareggio. I was used to it but I remember her look of terror verging on serious panick. It always felt like a miracle when we eventually exited the autostrada in Viareggio, alive…. There was a lot of artistry though, give it to the Italians!

    • Italians are very skilfull drivers. I suppose when you learn to drive on these narrow, winding roads with lots of traffic, you have to learn quickly. They seem to have a natural affinity with cars, but they are still terrifying.

  15. You should try riding a motorcycle in Italy! Over the past 5 years I have learned that all FIAT Pandas and Punto’s are to be seriously avoided at all costs. I am sure I have seen the above car a million times also….. They are mainly driven by very old men and woman who still live in the iron age and have no understanding of the road rules. I have seen them drive at a snails pase straight out of their driveway onto the road without even looking or caring what is comming. So I keep a very close eye on any small square looking Fiats that look like entering the road from a driveway. The bad thing is that often they park their little cars at the start of their driveway pointing their nose towards the road as if its ready for a fast getaway the next time they want to go to the shops. I hit the brakes and find out there is no one in the car. Better safe than sorry.

    • I hate the way they drive half way onto the road when they come out of a side street or driveway, it terrifies me. I have a motorbike licence, but I have not ridden a motorbike for almost 40 years and I certainly wouldn’t do it here. I want to live.

  16. […] in my blog before. I can’t tell you how many of them cause problems on the road. Click here to see more. Share this:ShareEmailPrintFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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