Monday, September 20, 2010

I Dream of Vespa

There's one fellow in my apartment building who has parks a Vespa in our parking lot (which, incidentally, is the same color as my ModCloth dress). It makes me wish I had a Vespa, and a perfect Vespa outfit. Unfortunately, you can't rent a Vespa in New York because it's just too dangerous; the insurance companies won't have it. I'll just have to dream and wait until I get to Italy, hopefully before the end of this year but that's no reason not to brush up on my Vespa history.

Towards the end of World War II, Enrico Piaggio made a noisy little scooter nicked named Paperino, Italian for Donald Duck. He was frustrated and passed the project on to another engineer, Corradino D'Ascanio. The look and sound of D'Ascanio's novel design reminded Piaggio of a wasp, which where Vespa got its name. Piaggio achieved his goal of creating a low-cost product "for the masses" that had the benefit of keeping riders safe and clean; his new motorbike first went into production in 1946. By the 50s, "riding a Vespa was synonymous with freedom, with agile exploitation of space and with easier social relationships (from the Vespa website)."

But I know Vespa through the mods. According to the Wikipedia article on Vespa, the mods loved Vespas because it protected their clothing and didn't require them wear leather. Their speedy rides gave birth to scooter rides and scooter culture, with people modifying their Vespas with lights and the like.

Hopefully, this will be me in a few months

Scooting by the Coloseum in 1952, via the LIFE photo archive

I found this great vintage ad on the Vespa website

And of course, no scooter-riding mod can go for a ride without a fabulous outfit

(How anyone rode a Vespa in a scooter dress or mini skirt, I'll never know)

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1 comment:

  1. I love Vespas, too, and great job putting together that little scooter riding ensemble!


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