In my book, Burnt by the Tuscan Sun (naturally), I talk about the choice of color for one's car to achieve the ultimate in Bella Figura status - the art of keeping up appearances. If a car color comes in, it'll be just moments before everyone in the entire country is showing it off on four wheels. For years, and since about the time I had moved to grey Milan, the car fleets were a cool silver. I would love to see the statistics on accidents during the fog-filled winters of these cars that blended into the surroundings better than a chameleon in the Serengeti.
Around the time that the silver cars took hold (on my street alone, on any given day there are about 34 of them out of about 48 spots), the little white FIATs (Pandas and Unos) were suddenly going out of fashion. In fact, in fashion forward Italy, white cars were going the way of white togas. Well, everywhere except in the taxi fleets. Taxi unions were furious when they were forced to transform from shocking (and eye-catching) yellow cabs into Star Trek white vehicles; a paint job that added to the upkeep in car wash fees for keeping them so bright and shiny (and camouflaged -- on sunny days in Rome, they're nearly impossible to see teeming down the city streets).
But after nearly 20 years, white is the new grey. It may have started a few years back with the onset of the cute little Smart cars, but it looks like white is here to stay. And the color looks terrific. I'm personally in love with the oversized Mini Coopers (which I like to call the Maxi -- hey, if Apple can have an iPad...), but white even makes SUVs look less hideous as they're barreling down onto your bumper and driving over the roof of your car...So much so, perhaps they should paint the bottoms of them white as well.
And worried about being mistaken for a taxi? They're so hard to find, that I guess people realized that that mistaken identity wouldn't occur so often, after all.
As for the taxis? I wonder if they'll make a counter move and go back to florescent yellow. Now that would be a sight to see.