Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

Everybody is crazy about the Fiat 500. Americans, English, French, Japanese, German tourists. It seems that everyone cultivates the dream of travelling along the winding Chianti Classico roads on a Fiat 500.

Six years ago, on June 3rd 2013, in Castellina in Chianti, the “Noleggio Chianti 500” car rental by Gabriele Ciabattini opened.

“When we started it was me, my mother and my cousin Francesca Sisti. She’s worked with us just for three years, but she’s been a very important part of our team. At the beginning we owned one Fiat 500. Today we have fifteen. It all started as a joke, a real leap of faith. Everyone used to laugh at me”, says the owner Gabriele Ciabattini.

“I used to work in the family business, but I dreamt of starting my own business, to act on my passion. Now when I wake up in the morning to go to work, I’m happy and I start the day with a smile. The day we opened the business – it was on a Monday – we didn’t tell anyone. We were very lucky to start working with the Castello del Nero, in Tavarnelle. From the beginning they believed in the professionalism of our service and they chose us as a rental partner. They’ve been our springboard. Through them we became known in various establishments in Siena, Florence, and around Tuscany. I really owe a lot to them”.

“It’s a job that gives you a lot of satisfaction – Gabriele continues – At the end of each rental, customers thank us for the quality of our service and our reliability. Today we have ten Vespa scooters, bikes of all types and even new cars. We also offer rental services with drivers. We have two licenses”.

In 2015 there was a real turning point: “I had the privilege – remembers Gabriele – to meet Martina Grillini, with whom I opened a new service: the tour operator called “Tuscany Private Tour”. We organise several kinds of tours: Vespa tours, Fiat 500 tours, tours by minivan around the main Tuscan cities; we offer different services to our customers. The meeting with Martina gave us the opportunity to grow our business”.

Gabriele Ciabattini has been in love with the Fiat 500 since he was a child. A passion inherited from his grandfather, which later evolved into racing.

“I started competing at nineteen. I won two Italian Autostoriche hill-climbing championships and I was also the Italian champion in 2006 with my Fiat 500 Giannini 650 Np. I bought my first car at 18. It was a rare car, a Fiat 500 Giannini TV. I bought it from the accountant Boscagli through doctor Borghesi of Poggibonsi, my mum’s physiotherapist. I’m the second owner of this car that is sixty years old. I had it restored at the Officina Calosi in San Gimignano. At the age of nineteen I entered my first race in Radicondoli with a new Fiat Giannini, which was modify for competitions. I carried on until 2014. In 2008 I did not compete, I was waiting for the new car prepared by Calosi”.

Gabriele is in love with cars: “From 2009 to 2014 I won three more Italian hill-climbing vintage car championships with a Lucchini prototype: when you run, it’s all about adrenaline”.

On Wednesday 27th June, Gabriele and his staff had the opportunity to organize a great event, with forty vintage Fiat 500s at the “Bagnaia Golf & Spa Resort” in Siena: “It was a corporate incentive tour for a well-known pots and pans manifacturer. We organised every detail, an exclusive dinner in the square of Monteriggioni, and also Medieval-style entertainment for the evening. Over one hundred participants aboard Fiat 500s drove through the streets of Rosia, Abbadia Isola to get to Monteriggioni. On their arrival an excellent Tuscan dinner was waiting for them”.

“A special thanks – concludes Gabriele – goes to Giuliana, my mother. She has always supported me in this adventure and has worked incessantly for the company. Without her I would never have made it”.

Jessica Nardi