The Island of Pandas (Fiat Pandas, That Is)


The Italian island of Pantelleria covers simply over 32 sq. miles. It sits within the sea like a pebble flicked off the soccer ball of Sicily after it was struck by Italy’s boot. It is a spot of nice pure magnificence, all scorching springs and vistas of the Mediterranean, with a inhabitants of scarcely greater than 7500 folks.

However folks do not type many of the inhabitants right here, as a result of the volcanic island can be dwelling to the best variety of Fiat Pandas per sq. mile. It is an uncommon phenomenon that is led Fiat to launch a documentary concerning the folks and the Pandas of Pantelleria.

old fiat pandas in pandelleria


The documentary known as Pandelleria, and if you happen to’re trying to broaden your horizons with a foreign-language movie, then skip the Oscar-winning documentaries and provides this 30-minute brief a glance.

“What’s with all of the Pandas, you ask?” says one of many documentary’s topics, a winemaker and mechanic. “We disassemble them each day, we’ve got 1,000,000 Pandas [on] the island. We’ve got solely Pandas right here.”

white fiat panda in pandelleria


Maybe not fairly 1,000,000, however Pantelleria is really infested with Pandas. All three generations. Watching a boxy Eighties Panda 4×4 getting flung down a rural gravel street in actually Italian vogue (carrying a cargo maintain filled with grapes for the wine press) helps the viewer begin to perceive why that is. Pandas are small, economical, simply repaired, and surprisingly powerful. Simply the factor for all times on an remoted island the place self-reliance is essential.

The documentary was directed by award-winning Italian filmmaker Giovanni Troilo, who beforehand gained approval for his portrayal of the folks of Rome and those that reside within the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. The movie encompasses a collection of vignettes of farmers, foragers, mechanics, a restaurateur, a beekeeper, and even a non secular information to indicate how the Panda is just part of on a regular basis life on the island.

italy, sicily, pantelleria island gadir, the port

Maremagnum|Getty Pictures

Vacationers to Pantelleria are all however assured a Panda-centric expertise. It is because the one mannequin of automobile that native rental businesses inventory is—you guessed it—the Panda.

Launched in 1979, the Panda wore bodywork penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro. It was amongst his most beloved designs.

landascape cala cinque denti, pantelleria island, trapani, sicily, italy

Paolo Negri|Getty Pictures

Easy, sq., and powered by a pint-size engine, the unique Panda—like those who adopted it—was unpretentious and sensible. Greater than 4 million Pandas have been bought all through the first-generation automobile’s 23-year manufacturing run. Three generations in and greater than 40 years later, the Fiat Panda stays one of many best-selling autos in Italy.

The message of Pandelleria is much less concerning the Pandas of Pantelleria and extra concerning the lifetime of the native islanders. Reasonably than taking heart stage, the Panda serves as a relentless backdrop. On Pantelleria, Panda possession is just like the solar, just like the saltwater, just like the wine and music on the finish of a day’s work. It is not only a automobile, it is part of life on Pantelleria.

Automobile and driverAutomobile and driver Lettermark brand

Contributing Editor

Brendan McAleer is a contract author and photographer based mostly in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada. He grew up splitting his knuckles on British vehicles, got here of age within the golden period of Japanese sport-compact efficiency, and started writing about automobiles and folks in 2008. His explicit curiosity is the intersection between humanity and equipment, whether or not it’s the racing profession of Walter Cronkite or Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s half-century obsession with the Citroën 2CV. He has taught each of his younger daughters tips on how to shift a handbook transmission and is grateful for the excuse they supply to be perpetually shopping for Sizzling Wheels.


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