Italians have a great passion for coffee, for food (notably offal in Rome), smoking (basta!), football (you should have heard the horns honking after the 2-0 Italy-Rep. Ireland match last night) and cars. It’s fundamentally evident in the language: la macchina means the machine, but it’s most commonly used to mean the car. The machine is the car. The car is the machine
They love their cars. I did read somewhere that around the turn of the millennium, Italian per capita car ownership exceeded that of the USA. I can’t find that stat now. This list on Wikipedia (of vehicles per capita, not specifically cars) has them at 10th in the league table of vehicle-crazy nations. Monaco is first (surely Monaco is small enough to just walk everywhere? Crazy). The US is second. The UK, perhaps surprisingly, is 30th – good for the UK. That’s a sanity point in the UK’s favour.
Anyway. So Italy is still up there. 690 cars per 1000 population.
This car obsession was re-iterated to me this morning not by an encounter with Rome’s daft traffic but by an exchange I overheard between a thirty-ish mother and a three-ish daughter.
“Mummy – what kind of car is that?”
“That’s a Chrysler dear.”
This child was certainly starting young. And a girl to boot. Would you ever hear a three-year-old British girl ask that? Maybe, but the cultures I’m a little more familiar with – British, New Zealand, even US via the old remote viewing of movies and TV – it’s the males who grow up to be petrol-heads.