The Fiat 500 is a car produced by the Fiat company based in Piemonte, Italy between 1957 and 1975, with limited production of the Fiat 500 K estate continuing until 1977. It was launched in July 1957, and was marketed as a cheap and practical town car. Measuring only 3 meters (~10 feet) long, and originally powered by a tiny 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the 500 redefined the term "small car" and is considered one of the first city cars.
The car was designed by Dante Giacosa, (January 3, 1905 - March 31, 1996) an Italian car designer. Dante Giacosa, born in Rome, where his father was undertaking military service, Giacosa's family roots were in Neive on the southern edge of Piemonte. He studied engineering at the Polytechnic University of Turin until 1927. After completing his compulsory military service he joined Fiat in 1928, at first working on military vehicles and then in the aero engine division. The director of the aero-engine division was Tranquillo Zerbi, designer of Grand Prix cars for Fiat. In 1933 when work commenced on the Fiat 500, the director of the aero-engine division was Antonio Fessia. He had sufficient confidence to entrust the design of all the mechanical components of the car including the chassis to Giacosa. Giacosa was engineering manager at Fiat by 1937 and became director of the engineering division of Fiat by 1950. He retired from his full time position with Fiat in 1970, but retained close association with the company courtesy of a position which translates as "Consulting Engineer to Fiat's Presidency and General Management and a Company's Ambassador with National and International Organizations". Following his retirement he wrote several volumes of memoirs concerning his professional life. He passed away in Turin in 1996.
Today his legacy continues with the launched of a longer and heavier front wheel drive car, the Fiat Nuova 500.
This week we travel to Piemonte, another northern region of Italy. It has only been since the 1970s that even the rest of Italy has discovered the beauties and the bounties of Piedmont. Now it is a mecca for gourmands from every corner of the universe. They come to sip its wines, nibble on its cheeses, savor its stupendous meat dishes (in a country where fresh meat is rarely a mainstay), and last but far from least, they come to pay whatever price they must to taste its truffles. In the autumn, every small town in the region has a truffle, wild mushroom and/or wine festival, and here you will see the happy travelers devouring free samples, mingling in the piazza with the sweet and friendly but often rather bewildered locals, who are flattered but still not quite accustomed to all the attention.
We don't want you to think all you can do in Piedmont is eat and drink! Far from it. Spend a few romantic days on Lake Maggiore or teensy Lake Orta. Visit a Sacro Monte, a very unique local invention that offers you the chance to stroll among a dozen or so miniature chapels in an idyllic setting. Tour an authentic medieval castle - the region has some of the country's most dramatic fortresses. And do try to schedule a couple of days in the capital, Turin. This stately 19th-century city is virtually free of tourists, except for the aficionados who come to see Europe's best Egyptian Museum, the Automotive Museum or the Savoys' Royal Palace.
It is also home to the Auto Manufacturer Fiat and the great Juventus soccer team, winner of multiple European and Italian championships.
It's in the most mountainous region of Italy, entirely surrounded by the best known, splendid peaks of the Alps: the Monte Bianco, the Matterhorn, the Monte Rosa and the Gran Paradiso. The latter is at the center of a magnificent National Park, populated by beautiful specimens of ibex, chamois and eagle. Numerous glaciers feed a rich web of streams, which at the bottom of the respective valleys flow in the basin of the Dora Baltea. The distinctly Alpine character of this region can be seen in the pine forests, up to rather high altitudes, where they give place to large pasturelands. The small Alpine lakes, little jewels set in majestic mountain landscapes, are numerous. Thanks to the Monte Bianco’s and the Gran San Bernardo’s tunnels, the great historic passes are today important lines of communication.
Aosta is the capital of the region, which is ruled by a special statute, where the Italian and the French languages are officially recognized.
Important traces of the Roman Age can be found in Aosta: the city walls, the theater, Augustus’s Arch, the Pretorian Gate. Visitors can admire the Romanesque Cathedral, which dates back to the eleventh century. The Sant'Orso Church is a good example of medieval architecture. Many are the fortified castles in the Aosta Valley; moist of them are in perfect conditions and open to visitors; many have become museums of local history. The most famous are the castles of Fénis, of Aymavilles, of Issogne and Verrés.
Places to visit:The Matterhorn, the Monte Rosa, the Monte Bianco, which can be reached by the loftiest cableway in Europe; the beautiful National Park of Gran Paradiso; in winter, the numerous ski resorts. There are the typical villages with the quaint local houses (rascards). St. Vincent and its Casino offer a wide range of entertainment.
This Saturday Marchese Italian Market is kicking off "20 regions in 20 weeks" event. We will be posting information of every Region in Italy, along with recipes, pictures, and much more. Anyone that is from a particular region of Italy that wants to contribute, feel free to post in our forum
or email us directly. Anyone interested in the region of the week, feel free to ask questions and post on our new Forum
! Thanks to everyone that follow us on facebook, yelp, and emailed us with their questions! The first region to kick off this week will be...Valle d'Aosta
In celebration of Mother's Day, on May 8th, Marchese Italian Market will be giving out prizes to three lucky participants. In order to qualify, log-in on Yelp
and write a review under Marchese Italian Market. Prizes will be drawn on Sunday May 8th. Some items given out this year will be a Tre-marie Columba! Good luck to all who participate!