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The 7th Wednesday after Easter and the 3rd week end in September
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Always in August usually after the 15th, a moveable date

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December 13


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The owner of that little blue Fiat 500

Posted by Suzanne on 23 May 2014


The afternoon sun was low that Monday when a little blue Fiat 500L came into view as we turned onto the Calcarelli road to Polizzi. The shape of an older woman could be made out through the small rear window of the 500L as she gently swerved to miss the potholes. The Fiat moved slowly. There was no stopping at the stop signs, just a slowing and a drop in gear, our speedometer was reading 20km per hour when we decided to follow the little car back to Polizzi.

We parted ways when we took different turns once in the historic centre. I wanted to meet her. After asking a few questions in town I came to know her as Zia Gina, the 77 year old aunt of Andrea, the owner of Il Ristorante U Bagghiu. After lunch the following day I made a time to meet.

The afternoon of our meeting Andrea was waiting outside the double timber doors, the entry to the garden of the ruins of Polizzi’s Castle, next door to Gina’s house and the little blue Fiat was nosed into the castle wall- its owner was waiting for us.

When I met Gina at the top of the steps Andrea greeted her as Gigi: her agility and the light in her brown eyes belied her years. We talked as we strolled through the uneven paths of her secret garden, Gina steadying herself occasionally with a worn sturdy branch held loosely in her right hand.

“I have only ever had two fines since I bought this Fiat in 1971, both for parking,” said Gina. She bought it new not long after it had rolled off the Fiat assembly line at Termini Imerese down on the Tyrrhenian Sea.It  has had only one driver in its 43years: Francesca Benita Albanese known as Zia Gina.

Gina’s blue Fiat has driven the A19 autostrada only once and it is known around the back country roads and the villages of the Madonie where it has clocked up nearly 93,000 kilometers.For years Gina used her Fiat 500 to pick up local cheeses from Feudo San Giorgio, a large 17th century farm complex outside of Polizzi, where her brother made cheeses: pecorino and ricotta. It was Gina who delivered the cheeses to the shops and houses of Polizzi up until the end of the 1990s. “In all these years not one accident” Gina sparkled, “This car is still my independence.”

With that she pulled the key from her pocket and invited me to take a "ride”. Gina started the engine, put her foot on the small metal accelerator and tidied her hair. With some revving we reversed 50 meters or so and then Gina pushed the knobbed gear stick into first and we came quickly back up to the spot nudging the castle wall.

It was a photo call and Gina loved it. She locked the car, farewelled us and went up the steps to her secret garden. The garden is another story about the woman who loves the time spent alone behind the wheel of her 43 year old blue Fiat 500.




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