Vespa Celebrates 70 Years! The iconic Italian scooter brand Vespa is celebrating seventy years since it was first invented!! The first Vespa or “Paperino” (Italian word for Donald Duck or Duckling), was developed in April, 1946 by Enrico Piaggio and inventor Corradino D’Ascanio in Pontedera, near Pisa, in the Tuscany Region.
Enrico, son of Rinaldo Piaggio, had grown up learning from his successful father who had established a thriving business since 1884 building aircraft, rail carriages, goods vans and truck bodies and many other forms of machinery.
After the Second World War the family factories were flattened by both the retreating Germans and the advancing Allies. Enrico saw the urgent need for an affordable and modern form of transport which would service the masses. After a number of attempts, a prototype MP6 which had a wide central part where the rider could sit comfortably and well balanced and a narrow waist which appeared like a wasp, hence the name Vespa was designed and made.
This prototype was patented and presented to Ministry of Commerce in Florence and shortly after it was presented to the public and publicised on the cover of La Moto, 1946, production of the first Vespa was born. Production of this prototype and others exploded and by 1948 almost 20,000 were produced. Enrico took charge of testing each prototype and new models and promoted the business in Europe and around the world. He maintained interest in the product and created initiatives such as the Vespa Clubs and created service points for Vespa around the world, including America and Asia.
The riding of a Vespa became synonymous with freedom, an agile and easy to use machine which encouraged social relationships. It became a symbol of a certain type of Italian lifestyle which made its mark on its age. In cinema it became a part of social history as popular stars of film were seen riding a Vespa such as Marcelo Mastroianni in “La Dolce Vita”, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” and many well known stars have been linked to the scooter in photo shoots like Raquel Welch, Henry Fonda, Matt Damon, Antonio Banderas, Sting and many others.
For both Mario and Gianni of Vita Italian Tours a Vespa is their preferred mode of transport when getting to and from work at our office in Collingwood in inner city Melbourne. To ride to work each day, to beat the traffic and take advantage of its great convenience. Vespa is definitely a way of life. Here is to another 70 years for this iconic symbol, of Italy. Viva la Vespa!
For more information on the 70th Anniversay editions of the Piaggio Vespa
For more on the history of this famous italian icon: Vespa Our History