The Vespa edition

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

together

This was party time, a real carnival atmosphere

As each different club arrives they buzz their horns

furiously

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…..

…..being revved

…..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 ! ! ! ! !

Bless

G.

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