Eric Mayne's Blog

Now THAT's Italian!

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SAN DIEGO – Chrysler Group LLC is hosting test-drives of the Fiat 500 here this week. In the interest of fairness, the auto maker has embargoed all information until every journalist has had a chance to drive the stylish A-segment car.

But I figure I got here first, so I should be first to file a report.

Here’s a sneak peak at the owner’s manual, which strongly suggests Fiat is not just selling a car, it's selling an authentic Italian driving experience.

An entire chapter, excerpted below, is devoted to behavior.

“If the car in front of you is going too slowly, beep the horn and say: ‘Ti mi fa na barba.’ This means, ‘You make me grow a beard,’ which loses something in the translation, but the general concept is clear.

“If someone cuts you off, you are entitled to roll down your window and shout, ‘Testa dura!’ (hard head) at him or her. Then beep the horn.

“Fist-shaking or other hand gestures are not acceptable unless you were forced to slam on your brakes. In such a case, climb half-way out of the driver's side window and hold the horn down with your knee while yelling loudly, ‘Idiota!’ (No translation necessary.) Flicking the back of your hand under your chin toward the offending motorist is optional.

“If the object of your ire responds with an epithet of his or her own, it is suggested you de-escalate the situation. Say: ‘Fa mi ridi na gamba!’ which means, ‘You make my leg laugh.’

“Again, it loses something in the translation. But be assured, it will generate sufficient bewilderment to diffuse all tension so you can continue on your way.

"Beep the horn again and move on. Continue beeping randomly until you arrive at your destination."

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