Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin... Anything but Bella Vita! Italian bicycles sales surpassed those of cars in 2011: 1.750.0000 bicycles were bought in 2011 compared to 1.748.143 new cars registered.
For the first time since the end of the second World War the number of bikes sold in Italy has overtaken the number of cars.
According to data, Italians have a new-found appreciation of their old bikes and have decided to bring them out of their basements and attics. The old rusty models restored to roadworthiness are around 200.000.
Pietro Nigrelli, manager for the bike sector of Italian industry association Ancma, of Confindustria, said that 2,700 specialized shops, spread all over Italy, offer a full restyling (straight handlebar, coloured, fixed gear wheels, repainted frame) according to current trends for 100-150 euros only.
The reasons for bikes coming back into fashion, are economic crisis and the rising price of petrol which recently hit 2 euros a litre and rose by 4% in September.
Italian car industry is going through its worst crisis for decades: car sales have slumped to the level at which they stood in 1964.
Besides, high tech items and mobile phones, the only sectors bucking the crisis, have become the new status symbols, outclassing cars.
"Bikes are easy to use and cost little, and on distances of five kilometres they are often faster than other means of transport. This is the secret of their success" Nigrelli added.
This new trend is considered extremely positive by Legambiente (the most widespread environmental NGO inItaly), Anci (Italian National Association of Municipalities), Fiab (Bike's Friends Italian Federation), which gather this week in Reggio Emilia for a meeting organized by "let's save bikers" (an Italian bikers association).
These associations have always promoted the use of bikes as a chance to make a life style change.