I’ve been playing guitar since I was very young and some sense of rhythm I should have by now. If we extend the concept to everyday life, I see it a bit as a matter of being able to adapt to situations based on what is happening around and what our skills are. In short, being good at keeping the rhythm of life is definitely very useful. Sometimes I’ve been able to do it and adapt to unexpected changes, first and foremost the loss of my dream job. It’s no secret that I see the periods of my life marked by the cars used at that time. It may not be very poetic to tie memories to family cars but I have a whole section of this website dedicated to the subject. And the latest addition to the family bears the name of an award, as if to say that I have been …Bravo.
I should say Bravo to myself because the “blow” was hard but in the end I got back up, just as Aikido, which I have been practicing for almost 20 years, teaches you: fall well and get back up even better. But Aikido also teaches us to adapt to the flow of the moment, choosing the best “way” for us. When I lost my beloved job as a geologist a few years ago I was also at a critical age, just over half a century. An age when one should be reaping the rewards, not still floating on the help of family. But there you go…that’s how it happened, it happened and it left its mark. If the scars are there and they won’t go away, on the other hand I can say that I was also lucky, at least after a few years of near-desperation, depression, menial jobs and debt accumulation while tightening my belt more and more. In the end, thanks to my computer skills that I developed out of pure interest, to the non-trivial knowledge of the English language that I’ve always been passionate about (also because of rock music), eventually someone appreciated my skills and I recycled myself managing to get a salary again after years of darkness.
What does this have to do with cars? I don’t know. But I found myself noticing that since they are symbolic of a period for me, I deserve the new addition simply for the name. Bravo!
When I was a “teenager” and started dreaming of driving my own car, I didn’t have impossible dreams like Ferrari or Porsche. I liked everyday cars and especially Alfa Romeos. I generally appreciated Italian cars, which I thought definitely superior in design. I loved the small sports cars like the Autobianchi A112 Abarth, the Fiat 127 Sport, the Renault 5 Alpine. Also the aggressive hatchbacks of the time like the Fiat Ritmo 105 TC or the Abarth 125 TC, and of course the legendary Alfa 33! I liked the Golf but it didn’t drive me crazy. The BMW 3 series of the time was nice but…. I had my feet on the ground even in my dreams. The Ritmo, on the other hand, fascinated me, especially in the two very powerful versions mentioned above. However, I daydreamed about the Ritmo Super, not the basic version but not even the special one, which was beautiful but demanding and unlikely I would have been able to afford when I was young. I imagined myself in a blue Ritmo 65 Super taking my girlfriend out for a drive. Sometimes I would picture myself going out at night and picking up the girl in “my” hypothetical Fiat 127 Sport. We could say that those were the formative years in which I tried to take the rhythm (“ritmo”, like the car, in Italian) of life, awkwardly, without really succeeding. And so my dreams with the Fiat Ritmo of that time could be represented in this way, an attempt to find the right “Ritmo”.
I never even drove a Ritmo, perhaps because the Rhythm of life came to me much later. My father bought from an uncle of mine a blue Renault 14 that somewhat resembled its Fiat rival. So I learned to drive in the French car, with which I have many memories of my youth, while the Ritmo was no longer produced, it had evolved into the first Tipo, of which I remember the digital speedometer in that of an acquaintance.
While the Fiat Tipo evolved into the first Bravo, which left me indifferent, at my suggestion my retired father switched to a majestic Audi 80, which I inherited during the period in which I was a consultant in geology, then a researcher for a short time at the University. Even the prestigious German car, my favorite of those years, could represent my explosion, the peak of my growth as a man, my highest work success, research, the offer of a PhD in the USA, the encounter with my wife and the first home with her.
The more humble Skoda Fabia Wagon that came next represented the sobering time of life for two in the country love nest, a rational car of someone thinking perhaps of starting a family. Just like my father, my first family car was a Skoda (only for my father it had been a really Czechoslovakian Skoda and his first car ever).
In the meantime, the old Fiat Bravo became the edgy Fiat Stilo and I was taken by the nostalgia of the Audi that led me to get an old Audi A6 Avant Quattro full of problems, like me who was practically starving as a university researcher.
After a while I had to give in to reason and buy a Fiat Grande Punto that surprised me with its quality when they let me try it. I was reminded of the sporty Fiats I had dreamed of in my youth. The Fiat Uno and the first Fiat Punto (Italian for point or dot) had never appealed to me, but the Grande Punto did. Even there, the name suggested I was I at a Great (Grande) turning “Point”! Yes, because I had recently joined a small oil company and was finally making good money working as a geologist. It wasn’t just the turning “Point”. It was the big one!
In fact, our son was born, the greatest thing that happens in a life. The Grande Punto wasn’t big enough, so I looked for a station wagon and found a Sport Wagon: a splendid Alfa Romeo 156 that I bought on my first Christmas as a father and affectionately renamed “Papalfa“. My old passion for Alfa Romeos had been reawakened. The Giulia that fueled my childhood dreams came back to life in its 2000s heir. A great car that underscores the best period of my life. Of our life: the first years in the beautiful country house (different from the first one) with the newborn baby and the Papalfa are the most beautiful years of our life together.
But the Papalfa also witnessed the worst period, the dark days of unemployment, factory work, and hardship. And it suffered the consequences because the maintenance I was able to do was the bare minimum. And it carried the signs, just as I do (cars and scars…).
But since I was “Bravo” to pick myself up and start again by recycling myself thanks to my scientific and computer skills, when I could – and had to – change car, the opportunity that happened was a Fiat Bravo! The heir to the Ritmo that I liked so much when I was very young and that I never drove. The Bravo may not excite as much as an Alfa Romeo, but I’ve liked it a lot since it came out and I didn’t understand its lack of success. The Bravo reminds me of the Grande Punto that had surprised me so much a few years earlier, but also of the sparkling Ritmo of the past, albeit in a more modern key. Not surprisingly, in Australia it was named Ritmo due to copyright issues with a Toyota pickup of the same name.
Of course, I couldn’t afford a beautiful Giulietta, but I was “Bravo” to get the “Ritmo” right with my life. The beautiful Bravo is the right car for this moment. Meanwhile, the search for a possible Papalfa 2.0 goes on… Stay tuned!