According to my highly unscientific study of counting cars in public places, Rome loves its hybrids. Along one street in the Centro Storico, where narrow streets and punishing traffic don't make it the most car-friendly area in an already car-unfriendly city, there were almost two-dozen compact cars parked side by side. I'd estimate at least half, if not more, were hybrids.It's not surprising when you look at the government's recent stimulus plan, which is designed to incentivize investment in hybrid and natural-gas-powered vehicles. If Italians turn in a car that's at least 10 years old and opt for a hybrid, the government will fork over 3,000 Euro. That's a lot of money if you consider the thing costs from $11,000 to $16,000. At the current exchange rate, that's roughly 11,000 Euro, a third of which you get back in cash from the government.That futuristic-looking microcar the Smart Fortwo (pictured) is particularly popular in Italy and German, where two thirds of all Smart car owners live. What I find curious is the fact that there are more hybrid models already on the market in Europe, and yet they account for only 0.5 percent of car sales (though that's estimated to skyrocket by 2012). Meanwhile, empirical evidence says they're everywhere! It'll be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.