So my little experiment went just as I had thought. No one, excluding Noosheen, had any clue what the car in the previous post was. Not a taxi, not an Atac service car, the white car is a CarSharing Fiat Panda. And the driver was the Professor. When the Professor and I mention CarSharing, the Atac-Ministero dell'Ambiente initiative, we have a Lost in Translation moment. People assume we mean we are renting a car or we are borrowing our friends' cars.
Here's the deal. Despite looking like a public transport support car, CarSharing may be the coolest vehicle to hit the sampietrini this year. CarSharing means a fleet of Fiats for the exclusive use of you, upon iscrizione, to borrow when you need a car. And yes, the Professor and I have finally become a card carrying member! (Note: the card is the Professor's since I still haven't gotten around to getting my Italian driver's license, the main requirement for CarSharing.)
CarSharing caught my eye 2007, when I was searching for the Italian version of the USA's Zipcar. But there were less than 25 cars and they were limited to one municipio far my old Green Acres home so as much as I wanted to join, it was not convenient. We moved last year and CarSharing branched out to five different municipi and over 100 cars with two cars and their dedicated parking spots practically below my window. From what my Brooklyn friends tell me, Zipcar is the hip, American cousin with volume and variety, while CarSharing may be more sfigata, focused on the audience and less on the cars, as the selection is slim and Fiat-centric with Puntos, Pandas, 500s, Doblòs and Multiplas.
We don't really care that we look like an Atac taxi (Ataxi, coined by moi). Every time we drive "our" car and we are asked Atac questions like why is there no more bike parking? Or what time does the 115 come? We relish in the telling that we don't work for ATAC but we drive their cars for€ 1.80/ora and € 0.30/km. Every time we get into the car, we congratulate ourselves for being enviro-dorky. We can park anywhere in Rome for free, gas is free and there are no ZTL restrictions. In our over-labeled CarSharing promo car, we are allowed to cruise through the taxi lanes. It's as if we have are untouchable, even though no one knows about CarSharing. Like I said, we have the coolest car on the block.