I recently took a few days off and flew to Rome, Italy, one of my favorite big cities in Europe. I’ve been going to Rome on a semi-regular basis for about 20 years (you can find a few of my pictures from 2005 and 2007 here) and I’ve witnessed the automotive landscape change drastically, especially over the past decade or so.
Ten years ago, vintage cars were a common sight in Rome, there was one on literally every single street corner. Today, many of the older cars have simply vanished from the roads and, for the most part, the few that are left have been restored at one point or another.
A bar owner I talked to one night explained that owning an old car in Rome is difficult because the safety and emissions tests have progressively become more strict. It could be worse – as some readers might remember, about ten years ago a few politicians proposed an all-out ban on classics in the city.
That’s not to say that vintage cars have completely disappeared the Eternal City. You can still see quite a few 500s, a couple of 126s and some high-zoot classics such as older 911s. There’s a jaw-dropping amount of smart fortwos buzzing around the city, I’ve never seen this many smarts in one place before. Finally, Piaggio Apes aren’t exactly classics but they’re always an entertaining sight.