Wander the back streets of Murano and you can hear the roar of furnaces behind blind factory walls. The air trembles and there’s a perpetual orange...
Ironically, the most well-loved manufactured two-wheeled object of Italian pride takes its name from one of the most hated and petulant insects, a wasp, vespa in Italian.
While the new Vespa campaign aims to target people who follow their hearts, asking the question ‘Do you Vespa?’, spring has arrived and with it, after a long winter hibernation, the lifecycle of wasps has just started again too.
Piaggio, the Italian motor vehicle manufacturing company, founded 130 years ago and behind the Vespa success, seized the opportunity and launched in Rome at the end of last month the brand new Vespa Primavera. A Vespa Spring, indeed, accompanied by Vespa Sprint, a sportier version of the Italian classic, dedicated to a younger crowd that will flaunt the biggest wheels in Vespa history — twelve inches in diameter.
Vespa Primavera is the newest addition to the Vespa family, due to arrive in US dealer showrooms any day now. It features a radically new design, steel body for added stability without compromising comfort, and the incorporation of some stylistic and technical features of the Vespa 946, the most valuable and technically advanced model ever created in the Vespa history, “a pure expression of a style synonym.”
The ever popular and still proudly made-in-Italy scooter brand has an ambitious goal of vespifying the world, with two hundred thousand Vespas sold in 2017, as announced in the strategic four-year plan last month.
Vespa is the product of a technological revolution that completely subverted mobility during the last century, and was born from the lucky partnership between Enrico Piaggio, Italian entrepreneur, and Corradino D’Ascanio, an aeronautical engineer who flew the first Italian helicopter in 1930.
On April 23rd Vespa will be officially 68 years old, yet it is still so ageless. It portrays a venerable icon of Italian culture in its essence, and contributes to creating Italy’s association with excellence in many sectors.
Sometimes the best things in life come from the worst, and Vespa might be the perfect example of emergence from the wreckage of World War II. After the destruction of the war, Italy had a profound desire to reconstruct. Railroads and streets were being rebuilt; the big push for mobility as a way to get Italy in a better place was what inspired Piaggio’s intuition and became the symbol of Italy’s hope to restart the engine and recover from bombs and devastation.
A practical and economical vehicle like Vespa only needed to literally (re)start Italy after World War II, but it became so much more.
Vespa did not just overcome the big gap between a bicycle and a car, it became a symbol of a lifestyle, a sense of youthful independence and freedom, especially for women who could finally drive on two wheels comfortably while they were first approaching their emancipation and ability to vote for the first time in history.
When a product is designed and created for people and with people in mind, like a custom tailored dress on a woman, it is no longer just about sales. Only courageous, bold and risky ideas can lead to something like a Vespa, which is a true piece of history and culture, not just another product to hit the market.
Vespa was not supposed to end up in iconic movies like Roman Holidays, pop culture books or museums like MoMa. It was not intended to be named as one of the best and most influential designs of the past 100 years alongside Apple products. It was not expected to end up symbolizing the quintessence of Italian culture and society.
Yet despite its clear importance to Italians, the exact reasons why everybody loves the Vespa so much are still a bit vague, but that’s probably the exact meaning of love.
Something imperfect that you cannot precisely define. A Vespa represents the metaphor of an un-stereotyped beauty, like a classical Italian woman. Its comfortable, soft, peaceful curves convey a deep serenity, a sense of reassurance and happiness that can be found in its simplicity. It’s a philosophy of life; a unique identity that isn’t fraudulent and that can never be stolen.