What would you do if you inherited a taxi and the license to go with it? In 2001, Caterina Bellandi inherited a taxi, Milano 25, from her deceased partner. At the time, Milano 25 looked like most Tuscan taxis although it was primarily used to take sick children to and from hospitals. Applying her own personal touches, Caterina, who believes, “My children may be sick, but they can be happy,” dresses in flower and pompom festooned hats, flowing colored capes and red lipstick. Her sense of style is somewhat Mary Poppins in dress and in the decor of her taxi.
Over the years, Caterina arranges outings and play dates for the children she drives. With the support of community businesses and individuals, this unusual woman brings shut-in children and their family members pizza. Her excentric style and caring heart brought her to the notice of other members of the Tuscany community to the point that when a new Monopoly Game was developed, much of the play money used in the board game featured Caterina’s picture.
The people of the community know that Caterina’s passengers must be sick young people. Occasionally, a tourist will approach Caterina’s vividly painted taxi requesting a ride. This 21st Century Mary Poppins responds, “Oh, sweetheart, you can’t, but we will meet if it is meant to be.” Then she honks her horn, which plays “La Cucaracha”.
Over the centuries Tuscany has produced great artists and famous scientists. Today it has produced a beloved character with a very big heart, Caterina Bellandi.