The Island of Pandas (Fiat Pandas, That Is)

The Italian island of Pantelleria addresses just above 32 sq. miles. It sits in the sea like a pebble flicked off the soccer ball of Sicily soon after it was struck by Italy’s boot. It truly is a spot of fantastic normal beauty, all very hot springs and vistas of the Mediterranean, with a populace of scarcely a lot more than 7500 men and women.

But people today do not variety most of the inhabitants listed here, mainly because the volcanic island is also residence to the biggest amount of Fiat Pandas per sq. mile. It is an unusual phenomenon that’s led Fiat to launch a documentary about the persons and the Pandas of Pantelleria.


The documentary is identified as Pandelleria, and if you might be seeking to broaden your horizons with a international-language film, then skip the Oscar-profitable documentaries and give this 30-minute quick a search.

“What is actually with all the Pandas, you request?” claims a person of the documentary’s subjects, a winemaker and mechanic. “We disassemble them each and every day, we have a million Pandas [on] the island. We have only Pandas below.”

white fiat panda in pandelleria


Potentially not very a million, but Pantelleria is truly infested with Pandas. All 3 generations. Watching a boxy 1980s Panda 4×4 acquiring flung down a rural gravel highway in certainly Italian style (carrying a cargo hold full of grapes for the wine push) assists the viewer start out to recognize why this is. Pandas are compact, cost-effective, quickly fixed, and surprisingly challenging. Just the point for everyday living on an isolated island where by self-reliance is key.

The documentary was directed by award-winning Italian filmmaker Giovanni Troilo, who formerly received acclaim for his portrayal of the men and women of Rome and those who are living in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. The movie options a collection of vignettes of farmers, foragers, mechanics, a restaurateur, a beekeeper, and even a spiritual guide to exhibit how the Panda is basically a element of daily life on the island.

italy, sicily, pantelleria island gadir, the port

Maremagnum|Getty Illustrations or photos

Travellers to Pantelleria are all but guaranteed a Panda-centric encounter. This is mainly because the only product of automobile that community rental agencies stock is—you guessed it—the Panda.

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

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

Paolo Negri|Getty Images

Very simple, square, and run by a pint-sizing motor, the original Panda—like those people that followed it—was unpretentious and sensible. Much more than four million Pandas had been offered in the course of the very first-technology car’s 23-yr production run. 3 generations in and a lot more than 40 a long time later on, the Fiat Panda stays a person of the best-providing cars in Italy.

The message of Pandelleria is fewer about the Pandas of Pantelleria and additional about the lifestyle of the community islanders. Relatively than taking heart stage, the Panda serves as a consistent backdrop. On Pantelleria, Panda ownership is like the sun, like the saltwater, like the wine and songs at the conclusion of a day’s function. It is not just a auto, it is a aspect of everyday living on Pantelleria.

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Contributing Editor

Brendan McAleer is a freelance author and photographer dependent in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada. He grew up splitting his knuckles on British vehicles, came of age in the golden period of Japanese activity-compact effectiveness, and started composing about automobiles and individuals in 2008. His distinct desire is the intersection involving humanity and equipment, regardless of whether it is the racing profession of Walter Cronkite or Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s half-century obsession with the Citroën 2CV. He has taught the two of his youthful daughters how to change a manual transmission and is grateful for the excuse they deliver to be perpetually getting Scorching Wheels.