The word vespa is Italiano for wasp
But in Italy the word vespa has much greater significance
Because the Vespa is Italy’s two-wheeled gift to the world
Because the Vespa is Italy
Because the Vespa is iconic
Because the Vespa is a way of life
Time for a little history lesson…..
The Vespa is made by the Piaggio company that originally
manufactured fighter planes
After WW2 old man Piaggio reckoned that demand for smaller
fighter aircraft would slump…..shrewd cookie !
Anyway, the allies had blown his factory to kingdom come !
So with a neat little sidestep that rivals Nokia’s shift
from rubber boots to mobile phones he decided to invent
a cheap form of transport for an impoverished Italy
The Vespa was born in 1946
The rest really is history ! ! !
Faster than a bicycle
Cheaper than a car
And once Audrey Hepburn side-saddled one behind Gregory
Peck in 1952’s Hollywood romance, ‘Roman Holiday’ the rest
of the world wanted one too
Oh, I nearly forgot…..
Where did the name come from ?
Well, supposedly when the boss first saw it he exclaimed
‘Blimey, it’s looks like a bloody wasp’ !
‘Sembra una vespa’ !
Of course, if you laid Sophia Loren on her side you would
probably think the same thing ! ! !
What’s more, with its tiny 100cc two-stroke engine it
sounded like a very angry and dangerous insect
The Vespa was the ‘birth of the cool’ in Italy
In a two-wheel race-off, the boy on the Vespa always
beat the boy on the bike
And the winner always gets the girl
And this is Italy where getting the signorina is a matter
of life and death !
So fast forward to today
The G-man shimmied into the main town square in
Bassangeles on Sunday to be surprised by a Vespa rally
400 of the little buggers and their proud owners
Vespa clubs are ubiquitous in Italy and they meet up to
go for organised rides
This was the big daddy meet-up of them all
The late summer Vespa clubs rally where all the clubs get
This was party time, a real carnival atmosphere
As each different club arrives they buzz their horns
You can’t hear yourself think…..
It is magic !
‘E magia !’
One of the clubs has food and wine in demijohns and
fruit crates fixed to their scooters…..
…..they are soon handing out plastic cups of wine
and salami panini to outstretched hands
One curious fellow has a buffalo skin as a coat and
cow horns fixed to his skid-lid
Eventually the time arrives for the grand departure
The sound of 400 Vespas in low gear…..
…..riders doing wheelies (I’m not making this up)
…..is deafeningly unforgettable
The most popular model that Vespa ever produced was
the ‘Vespa Amore’
The 125cc little honey was sold complete with a
blanket in its storage compartment…..
…..Vespa + signorina + blanket + field…..
Amore, Italian style !
Which neatly explains why the majority of Italian
children are born in the spring ! ! ! ! !