By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 19, 2010 at 2:05 PM

News that Bergstrom will open a Fiat dealership on the northwest side, where it already sells SMART cars, reminded me that I once blogged on the subject. So, I dug into the archive and -- like Bruce Springsteen -- I added a bit of new vocal to this classic track ...

Like you, I grew up hearing that Fiat stood for "fix it again, Tony." That was the reputation of Italy's car maker here for a long time.

That attitude doomed the marque here in the U.S. and kept it out even as the Turin-based company -- which bought Case in Racine years ago -- started churning out pretty reliable, relatively earth-friendly vehicles.

Despite suffering some woes in recent years, Fiat is back thanks to a revived 500 -- it's legendary little car -- which has turned a lot of heads, a la the Mini Cooper rebirth, thanks to BMW. Recently, it announced a partnership with Chrysler.

But I like the Punto, which is also little, but a bit bigger than the 500 and a bit more workaday; less glam. But maybe you can't trust me, because I liked the Renault Twingo we rented in the Dordogne a few years ago, too. I don't need glitz; I'm a sucker for a small, fuel efficient car.

Because my cousins are the coolest people in the world, they lend me their silver, four-door Punto every time I visit, knowing that it's hard to get around the area without a car. It's pockmarked from a couple severe hail storms and it's a pretty basic car, but it's reliable, it handles nicely and it doesn't suck down gas, which there -- a country that's celebrating $6 a gallon fuel -- is a big deal.

The Truth About Cars.com gave the 2008 Punto four out of five stars.

Last year, on a trip to Italy with my son, I was given a brand new Fiat 500 for our 10-day stay and we loved it. It was comfortable, cool-looking, great on narrow, twisty and hilly roads and only sipped gas, which is an expensive commodity in Europe.

Now, when I'm in the market for a new car, I'll give a serious look at the Fiats at Bergstrom.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.