The Top 7 Most Exciting Italian Cars

Italian cars have a reputation for quality and speed. They are a status symbol for the upper class, and have a stellar reputation in the world of racing. Some cars are known by the manufacturers, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. Others are known by their own names, like Gran Turismo, Diablo and Ypsilon. Here is a list of the top seven Italian cars produced by the best Italian car manufacturers.

Alfa Romeo Spider
The Alfa Romeo Spider was first manufactured as the Giulietta Spider. It was created at the request of Max Hoffman, a famous importer to the US in the 1950’s. In the 1960’s, Alfa Romeo exported the Spider and other models to the US, and the Spider was featured in the film classic “The Graduate” starring Dustin Hoffman.

The Spider has gone through some changes over the years, but it has always been a rag top modeled after Romeo’s Brera. In addition to the Spider, Alfa Romeo is known for the MiTo and the Giulietta. They are also famous in Grand Prix racing for motorsport sponsorship and manufacturing.

Ferrari GTO
Ferrari has been around since 1929, but they mainly manufactured racing cars. In 1947 they created the first sports car that was street legal called the 125s. The 250 GTO was the first of their supercars line, designed to be sleek, fast, and expensive. Ferrari is a symbol of class and speed, and many wealthy car enthusiasts believe that Ferrari’s are a status symbol.

Although those who aren’t as familiar with cars recognize the Ferrari name and symbol of a rearing horse, there are several different models. The California Grand Tourer with a V8 engine and the 458 Italia are the latest popular models. Ferrari is still well-known in the racing circuit, especially in Formula One, where it is famous for its racing cars.

Fiat 500
Fiat has been around since 1894 and is known for several models of Italian cars, including the newer Fiat 500 and Punto Evo. In 2009, they were the world’s ninth largest car manufacturer and they were Italy’s largest manufacturer of automobiles. They are best known for their supermini vehicles that are fast and great on gas. The Punto Evo comes in three different models: 3-door, 5-door and van. They are only sold with diesel or gas engines with 5 or 6-speed manual transmissions.

Fiat has formed relationships with General Motors, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Lancia. In 2009 they acquired 30% of ownership in Chrysler, and as of 2011 own 53.5% of the company.

Lamborghini Diablo
Like with Maserati and Ferrari, many recognize the Lamborghini name but may not know the different models they sell. The Diablo was the sports car that made Lamborghini famous, especially in the US. The Countach is another popular car produced by Lamborghini, but these two models were replaced by the Gallardo and Spyder.

Lamborghini began in 1963 and is actually known for its farm equipment. Its founder was a sports car enthusiast and was determined to make improvements in what he saw as deficiencies in the Ferrari line. Despite its struggles and financial hardships, Lamborghini is still known as a luxury sports car manufacturer.

Lancia Ypsilon
The Ypsilon is one of Lancia’s newest superminis. It is a 5-door hatchback and is produced with the Musa, and Delta, other vehicles in the small family car market. Lancia has been around since 1906 and became a part of the Fiat Group in 1969. It is known for naming its cars after letters in the Greek Alphabet.

Maserati Gran Turismo
 Italian CarsMaserati is a well-known manufacturer, but has actually been owned by several different companies over the years, including the French car company Citroen. It was founded in 1914 and, like many Italian car manufacturers, began creating racing cars for motor sports.

It became a part of the Fiat Group in 1993. The Gran Turismo is a Grand Tourer and has a V8 4.2 liter engine. Its many sports models are well known in the racing world, especially in Europe.

Pugani Zonda
Pugani is the elite in sports cars and has many vehicles that are custom made for its rich clients. This company is younger than many of the other top Italian car manufacturers; it has only been around since 1992. The Zonda has a V-12 Maserati engine and was modeled after the jet fighter design. This vehicle was inspired by, and created for, car enthusiasts in Europe.

Italian cars are best known in the Formula One and Grand Prix racing arenas. Their manufacturers have gone through many difficult times, including ownership by the Italian dictator Mussolini during World War II. They have survived these changes and hard economic times to be considered the best of the best in the sports car industry. They are the status symbol of the young, the rich and the powerful and the envy of many sports car enthusiasts. Many American sports cars have strived to duplicate Italy’s success but never quite made it.

Economy of Italy, a Land Divided

Italy’s economy is divided into two main areas of industry and agriculture. These two contributors are divided by geography and income. While the North is highly developed and relatively well off, the South is less developed and has a high unemployment. This disparity is only one in a strange economic system that is full of extremes.

Industry

Industry is the main contributor to Italy’s economy. The major producers are small, family-owned companies. Italy’s most important industries include:

  • Machinery
  • Iron and steel
  • Cars
  • Textiles
  • Clothing
  • Ceramics

Most of Italy’s manufacturing plants are located in the North. The service sector, which has grown to contribute 73% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, (GDP), is also focused mainly in northern Italy.

Agriculture

While most of Italy’s agriculture is located in the less-developed South, Italy has a total of 2.6 million farms. Small family-run farms of less than 5 hectares comprise 94% of Italy’s farms, which contributes to the South’s higher unemployment rate.

Italy is the largest wine producer in the world and one of the leaders of olive oil production. Other crops that exist on Italian farms, North and South include:

  • Citrus
  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Sugar beets
  • Wheat
  • Dairy

Southern Italy is also known for its citrus and fruits in addition to grapes and olives. Overall, agriculture only contributes to 1% of the nation’s GDP and is hampered by Italy’s underground economy.

Italy’s Underground Economy

Italy has made great strides in trying to curb its underground economy, although some experts think it contributes 15% of the country’s GDP. The darker side of the economy of Italy is prevalent in agriculture, service industry and construction. The Italian government has tried to make changes in graft and other contributors to the black market, as well as create more employment opportunities for women and young men. They have made improvements, but the economic crisis that hit the rest of the world had an impact on Italy as well.

Current Economic Issues

The global economic crisis has hit Italy with high unemployment and financial issues. The national unemployment rate rose from 6% in 2008 to about 8.4% in 2010. The nation has suffered from high public debt that amounts to over 100% of its GDP. The Italian government has tried to curb spending, but the high debt issues make this difficult.Economy of Italy

Overall, the economy of Italy is the 8th largest in the world and the 4th largest in Europe in terms of its Gross Domestic Product. In terms of purchasing power or PPP, Italy is the 5th largest in Europe and ranks as the 10th largest globally.

Imports and Exports

Italy ranks 8th in the world for its imports and 9th for its exports. Italy’s export partners include Germany, France, Spain, China, Spain and Russia. As part of the European Union (EU), Italy has special relationships with member nations, especial in terms of its Wine exports.

Italy’s largest imports include:

 

  • Tobacco
  • Engineering products
  • Transport equipment
  • Energy Products
  • Minerals
  • Production machinery

Italy’s largest exports include:

  • Clothing
  • Machinery
  • Ceramics
  • Clothing
  • Beverages

Italy’s imports cost the country about $473 billion dollars a year, and its exports generate about $448 billion dollars in revenue.

The economy of Italy has through tough economic hardships similar to the other nations of the world due to global financial issues that began in 2008. The major strains on the country come from unemployment, national debt and the underground economy, which seems to hurt even while it helps. Over time, the unemployment rate will be the most detrimental drain on Italy’s economy.

Find Style and Class with Italian Clothes

Most people realize how popular France is in the world of fashion. It may surprise you to know, however, that Italian clothes also have been at the height of fashion for many centuries. From the Renaissance to the millennium and beyond, Milan and Rome have held their own against Paris, Los Angeles and Tokyo with designs that fashionistas are dying to wear.

Italian Clothes during the Renaissance

Italy became the center of fashion during the 11th century, when Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome produced clothes, shoes and jewelry that were sought after throughout Europe. When the Renaissance gave birth to art, culture and beauty, Italian designs were the height of fashion. Clothes worn by Queen Catherine de Medici and the Medici family were considered trendy in English, French and German royal courts.

The passion for Italian design waned in the 17th century, and France became known as the cultural center of Europe. Textiles, shoes and jewelry from Italy gave way to dresses and accoutrements worn by French courtiers. Silk was still a profitable market for Italian merchants, however, and their imports from Asia allowed Italian clothiers to maintain a healthy trade.

20th Century Rebirth of Italian Clothes

Italian ClothesIn the 1950’s, Giovanni Giorgini sought to revive the world’s interest in Italian fashion. After holding several fashion shows around the world, the fever began to take hold once again. In the United States, a number of Hollywood stars wore Italian designs in the 1960’s, and the American rich started to see Italy’s designers as a status symbol of wealth and fame.

Some of the people who made Italian clothes popular were:

  • First Lady Jackie Kennedy
  • Grace Kelly
  • Audrey Hepburn

The designers often created special clothing lines just for the stars who wore them. Gucci, Versace, Armani and Garavani all had their favorite stars, and went out of their way to create unique pieces. When Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis, Garavani created a special wedding dress.

This trend in expensive designs has continued over time. More recent stars who wear clothes from their favorite Italian designers include:

  • Madonna
  • Beyonce
  • Rihanna
  • Lady Gaga

Many designs are too expensive for the average person to purchase, but Italian designs haven’t always been exclusively for the rich. During the 70’s and 80’s, Italian clothiers became interested in everyday wear, such as jeans and miniskirts. While still more expensive than many jean designers, these jeans remained less expensive than many clothes put out by Armani and Gucci.

Italian Clothes as a part of their culture

Italian men and women have always considered clothing to be an important part of their lives. Creating a good first impression is paramount for Italians, and the way they dress is a part of that impression. This is why Italian designers have always stressed the importance of material and design in their creations.

Many of the famous design houses are native to Italy. In addition to Gucci and Armani, other newer designers have established themselves in the fashion world. Benetton, Miu Miu, and Etro have joined the ranks of famous Italian designers. Luxottica and Bulgari are jewelry brands that are also based in Italy and considered the height of fashion.

Milan and Rome remain vital cities in the world of fashion. In fact, Milan and Rome are in the top five most important cities for fashion in the entire world and beat out London for the title. New York and Paris are also in that group, so Rome and Milan are in very prestigious company.

Italy also has some of the most famous shopping districts in the world. The Via Montenapoleone fashion district is located in Milan and the Via de Condotti is in Rome. The Via de Tornabuoni is another vital shopping district. This fashion epicenter is in Florence, another important city in the world of fashion, although not as famous as Rome or Milan.

Italy’s desire to be the best dressed has led to the popularity of Italian clothes around the world. For nearly nine centuries, those who sought expensive clothes have sought designs from some of the oldest Italian fashion houses. Hollywood stars, the rich and powerful, and even famous politicians of the 60’s through the 2000’s have been proud wearers of Gucci, Versace, Armani, and Garavani. Some of these modern-day courtiers have requested special designs that cost thousands of dollars. One of the kind dresses for weddings, award ceremonies and other occasions are worn by American stars, dazzling the paparazzi and public alike.

When shopping for the latest trends, don’t just search for them in Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, or Christian Dior. You should learn to speak Prada, the Italian design house from Milan that has become the language of fashionistas the world over.