You cannot go far in Italy without seeing a Scooter or two, they are iconic and deeply entwined in the country’s soul. I love them, yet have never ridden one, let alone owned one myself. They are one of those things that evoke recognition of where you are. Mopeds are to Italy what bicycles are to The Netherlands, what sunflowers are to the Dordogne or just as iconic as a Pizza!
Somehow, subconsciously I have found, whilst going through my collection of photos taken from the trip, a whole host of images of these two wheeled wonders. In fact I wish I had taken more, as I am sure there is a project here for another time.
So in the interests of sharing some possibly useless facts, I gleaned the following (from Google of course!)
- Enrico Piaggio was not a fan of conventional motorcycles, he hated them! In fact he asked his chief engineer, Corradino D’Ascanio to design the first model on his behalf!
- The Vespa was an instant hit but it wasn’t until they featured in the Hollywood feature film “Roman Holiday” that their success really took off
- It was inspired by an American military motorcycle, The Cushman Model 53, better known as the Airborne, was a rugged, lightweight motorcycle with small wheels, which was designed to be parachuted into war zones during WW2. Many were dropped into Italy around Milan and Turin to be used by Italian resistance fighters and, as a result, were a common sight.
- Originally parts for the Vespa scooters were manufactured by Alfa Romeo