Osigo Ausius looks down his regal Roman nose and surveys his bountiful land. Olives and grapes all around. He’s confident in the knowledge that his wealth and villa are grand enough that his name is fated to be repeated for millennia. Two thousand years hence and the town of Osigo, where the Roman and his villa once stood, is home to 569 souls. It’s in the province of Treviso in northern Italy, and is known for the raisin wine Torchiato. Over the weekend Ausius was recalled in another most unexpected way on the other side of the world in Perth, Australia.
Vince smiles with pride as he hauls himself out, after him come Bernita and their two lovely daughters. They’d finished their sunny Sunday morning drive by parking in the courtyard of the Perth Cultural Centre. An admiring crowd quickly gathers, and Vince easily engages in happy conversation.
“Bernita’s grandfather bought it new,” he explains of their red 1969 Fiat 500. She’s a beautiful car, and the family is justly satisfied. It’s also tiny at less than 9 feet long and 4 feet high. It’s hard to believe that the family of four was just inside. She’s one of the favourites of the 35th anniversary display day of the Fiat Lancia Club of Western Australia.
Another Fiat 500, this one white with flashy while-walled tyres, defiantly parks nearby. Vince grins and says, “Red cars go faster,” preferring his own version of the little Italian classic.
Behind them is a green 1957 Fiat 600 Multipla, sort of like a miniature Volksmagon station wagon with Italian design. And next to that is a classic silver Spider, the Vetture Speciali 1969 Fiat 1200 Cabriolet, one of only 400 built by Pininfarina Italy.
The number plate on Vince and Bernita’s car reads OSIGO. He explains it’s not a sporting chant for Australia, but rather the home town of Bernita’s car-buying grandfather. The Roman Ausius would be pleased, his name still commanding attention, even if it is on a tiny car 9,000 miles away from home.