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A Pechino col Pandino: the story of a Sicilian and a Fiat Panda

In 2018, an interesting undertaking involved three young people and an old car. An epic journey, from Palermo to Beijing. Several small and large companies funded the trip, including the main sponsor MAGICMOTORSPORT.
Even if technically only one of them (engineer Giovanni Cipolla) arrived in China (eventually reaching Shanghai), and even if the Panda remained on the border between Mongolia and China, the feat certainly succeeded.

The Panda on the way back to Mongolia. Source: A Pechino col Pandino Fanpage (on facebook)

A Pechino col Pandino (to Beijing on a little Fiat Panda)

The group A Pechino col Pandino (to Beijing on a little Fiat Panda) crossed more than 16,000 km and a dozen countries to finally reach China. The trip was all on a Fiat Panda and with some (few) sections made by ferry. All while crossing as less borders as possible (or almost).
Our team met them in presence before their departure in Italy, and found the only “survivor” some time later in Shanghai, at the end of the trip.

A trip that connects the West to the East

There have been occasions when the group got into trouble and got away with the help of the locals, other times with elbow grease and a bit of luck. Driving a vehicle that is relatively easy to fix and whose mechanics are pretty simple certainly didn’t hurt.

One of the first stops of the trip, in Greece. Source: A Pechino col Pandino Fanpage (on facebook)

In many places there was no telephone coverage. Many roads were in dire condition and there were long off-road segments. Communication problems were also not few, in territories where neither Italian nor English are spoken. Nonetheless, the group (and also the car) received help almost everywhere. From a ride, to the car being towed, to a hot meal, the spirit of the inhabitants of the places visited certainly influenced the group, which in fact has not stopped traveling at all.
A fundamental necessity was Giovanni’s practical sense, capable of managing emergencies on a daily basis. Emergencies, among other things completely different from those that can be experienced in one’s own homeland.

A stop in Cappadocia, Turkey. Source: A Pechino col Pandino Fanpage (on facebook)

The first important lesson of this journey: you can bridge any distance, if you want so; the second, that we can all make immense efforts beyond our capabilities. Just as the Panda has succeeded in a incredible feat even for much more modern and advanced vehicles.

The Panda comes back home

Giovanni had to abandon the Panda at the Sino-Mongolian border, and finally returned to Italy by plane. However, he didn’t feel like leaving the vehicle there. In fact, he said, in a post on Instagram:
Il pandino è la, non voglio abbandonarlo, mi si stringe il cuore al sol pensiero, mio unico, grande, silente compagno di viaggio.
[The Panda is there, I do not want to abandon it, my heart tightens at the very thought, my only, great, silent traveling companion.]
That’s why Giovanni chose to come back. He drove the car through Russia and Western Europe just to bring it back to Sicily. The second trip was also gladly financed by people from all over Italy, and finally the Panda returned home.

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