Meeting of the Fiat 500 Club Italia in Pistoia on 14 and 15 May 2022
Fiat 500 Club Italia Meeting in Pistoia – a Report by Amsycora, our Representative for Italy
Friday 13 May, 8 pm at platform 11 of Munich Central Station. This means nothing to those who are neither from Munich nor Italians living in Munich. But for us, platform 11 is almost Italy, this is where the migrant workers arrived with their suitcases held together with hemp ropes when the boom of the 1960s in Germany lured people from Southern Italy (but not only from there) to the North. They were heading for an uncertain future – who of them spoke any German? Even speaking proper Italian, instead of their native dialect, was a problem for many of them. I arrived here in 1982, too, but for me, it was different, I’m German-Italian, not a migrant worker, I speak German, I’m an interpreter. Likewise, this was the place where the return trips for holidays or for bringing along the family started. Those who experienced this still can feel it.
Here I’m standing, waiting for the night train to Florence, from where I will continue to Pistoia, to attend a meeting of the members of the Fiat 500 Club Italia, Pistoia section. Massimo Lissa, the Club Italia responsible, promised to pick me up.
On 14 May, I’m standing at the neat little train station of Pistoia. A number of boy scouts are gathering in one corner. I’m delayed by more than one hour. It doesn't take long before Massimo Lissa arrives. “We need to unload decorations at the restaurant, the van is already there,” he says, and so I’m immediately on board, carrying flowers, gift bags and other odd things that are obviously needed. The owner of the restaurant jokingly greets me in German, as does the waitress. Well, what’s going on here? “I ran a pizzeria in Stuttgart for 17 years,” the owner explains. “That was a great time,” he adds. “Now, I’m dedicated to this here.” Massimo is showing me around in the city of Pistoia; he’s proud of it – rightly so, I think. Pistoia is somewhat overshadowed by the larger and better known Florence, which is only about 20 km away. It is indeed similar to Florence, but without the tourists. Massimo goes on explaining that his wife refuses to go for walks with him in the city because he stops too often, shaking hands and small-talking with other people. While I'm experiencing that too, right now, I can take a look at the city at my leisure. I’m introduced to half the city council, learning that the local election campaign is under way. They ask me whether I like Pistoia: “Yes I do, very much.” Then, Massimo shows me a spacious and shady playground, which was co-financed by the local Fiat 500 Club Italia section.
After a short break at the hotel, activities start again around noon: Registration of participants who had already arrived on Saturday. Just about 40 little cars with lots of nice people in them.
Some people I know from Florence are among them. At 2:30 pm we all drive into town together and line up in the square of Piazza del Duomo.
The noise of the inconspicuous-looking 500s is deafening, with horns blaring additionally as if the high-pitched engines weren’t loud enough. A 695 model sounds very self-confident. I wonder whether every exhaust here conforms to the rules? Italians love their 500s, everyone has memories of the times when they were young. So we’re allowed to do what we want.
It’s surprising to see how many young people in their 20s and 30s have a “Cinquino” and lovingly care for it. The Cinquecento is a classic car – even loved by young people.
In the afternoon, we are treated with a group visit of the Museum of Medieval Art. There, a highly qualified and enthusiastic young lady explains us how the various forms of art from the 12th and 13th century are related to each other. The “Cinquecentisti” politely listen to her. While listening, some guys from the construction sector look at the masonry and comment on it: “You won’t find something like that today.”
Then, we’re heading for the Confetteria Corsini where – as the name suggests – the typical “Confetti” are made. We are shown the big copper kettles that look a bit like concrete mixers. They explain to us that the procedure is quite complicated although there is nothing more in it than a sugar coating.
In the sales room of the Confetteria Corsini, it comes to me like a bolt from the blue: The “Confetti” look like a bunch of colourful 500s in a cellophane bag! My photos proves it.
With a similar roar as on our arrival, we leave the central square again and proceed to dinner in the restaurant where I had helped with the decoration earlier.
I’m sitting at the table together with Alessandro Vinotti, Vice President of the Fiat 500 Club Italia and director of the 39th Garlenda meeting, Ringo Ducci, Massimo Lissa and Fabio Grosso, who are responsible, respectively, for the Florence, Pistoia and Rome south (including the Vatican) sections of the Fiat 500 Club Italia.
On Sunday, we drive into town again, lining up in a square-shaped arrangement in the square of Piazza del Duomo. In the lodge of the town hall, the registration desk has been set up and it’s teeming with people. More than 150 cars are registered, the whole square, apart from a certain free space, is full of 500s.
Some guests, namely Topolinos, Duetto Alfas, Fiat 600 Multipla models and Fiat 600s are also there. It’s an exuberant atmosphere with people welcoming old friends and acquaintances everywhere. On the space that was left free, the “Sbandieratori della Compagnia dell’Orso” start their performance at 11 am.
The art of flag waving and flag throwing is very popular in Pistoia just as in other cities of Tuscany, a tradition that is still kept alive.
The next hours after the impressing performance of the drummers and flag-wavers are used to give a few welcome speeches and enjoy a “Brindisi”, i.e. toast each other with Prosecco.
In the meantime, we stroll around between the countless 500s. While I’m talking to a married couple who had arrived in a Topolino, I spot an absolute rarity: a pickup. To be honest, I first thought it was a modern variant, but Alberto told me that only 45 of these extraordinary vehicles were built.
At 12:30 pm, we’re heading for the restaurant to have lunch – again with a loud roar I had gotten used to in the meantime. I’m accepted into a Bianchina, admiring the virtuoso heel-and-toe shift manoeuvres – sometimes even twice – carried out by my lady driver just as if there was nothing to it.
In the restaurant, prizes are drawn in a raffle, among them the Axel Gerstl vouchers: Vincenzo Giordano and Alberto Nardo di Maio, whom I knew from Florence and who drew my attention to the pickup, both win an EUR 50 voucher.
4 more vouchers were drawn, each worth EUR 25. The proceeds from the raffle will be donated: one part will benefit the MAIC organisation and the other one goes to the band of the “Compagnia dell’Orso” who performed the traditional flag-waving show. I must say, these lunch events do take some time: Aldo and his wife take me back to the hotel at 5 pm. In the evening, we have a pizza in an intimate family pizzeria. Since Massimo is from Caserta, I am sure I can expect an original pizza as it should be. Finally, all of us are tired so that we leave for the hotel at 9:30 pm. Unfortunately, I catch a Covid-19 infection, probably during the return trip on the train, so that I’m isolated at home for a while.