Fitting a Sun-Roof in a Panda

Renovating an old Italian house can be a source of frustration and anxiety but can also lead to moments of complete madness that reduce you to great gales of laughter. I had an incident recently that had me hugging my sides as I shook with mirth; it was one of those, ‘you had to be there moments’.

Our house is ancient, built originally from stone and adapted over the years with bricks, concrete and all manner of materials. It began it’s life as two houses, both of which consisted of a living space for the humans with a space for animals below. It’s hard to imagine a whole family, living in just one twenty square metre room. We’re not restoring our house with any romantic notion of turning it into a pseudo Italian farmhouse: The kind, that are featured in movies and pasta sauce adverts. As we have a more contemporary taste we’re modernising where we can, and anyway, as it’s an old contadino home, (peasant farmer) it would have been built for practicality not aesthetic charm. So during this process of renovation, rather than restoration we are replacing the old windows with brand new, cream coloured aluminium ones, and wonderful they look too. It’s this window replacement that led to much hilarity one Wednesday evening.

We were sat outside with our friends Viv and Seppe, (Seppe is fast becoming a Life on Shuffle celebrity). Olive the dog was running around with Ollie, Viv’s dog as we chatted about life and watched the evening creep in. I mentioned to Seppe that we had taken the window frame out from the second bedroom and if he wanted it; as he’s recycling our old windows, he could take it that evening. So before leaving I helped my friend put the window complete with shutters onto the roof rack of his Fiat Panda.


What an odd sight we must have seemed to our neighbours who watched as we loaded first the frame onto the car, we laughed as we said that we were fitting a sun-roof to the car. The laughter continued as we then had the job of fitting the shuttered windows, a passing car slowed to see the two men struggling. First we fitted them the wrong way round, then we had them upside down, then the wrong way round again and with each mistake we laughed more. (I did warn you that this was a ‘you had to be there moment’.)


Eventually we had the windows fitted to the frame, we turned the handle and they closed beautifully, all that was left was to secure them to the car. Then of course came the joke that you could tell the car had an Italian sunroof because it had shutters, not a particularly funny line, but it had me howling with laughter. You see I’m easily entertained and when Seppe is around, laughter follows in close proximity, as he’s naturally funny and quick witted.


The perfect accessory for all Italian cars, a sun roof with shutters.