Passage Maker - - Rest - BY JONATHAN COOPER


When my wife and I va­ca­tioned to Tus­cany in 2005, I knew we were a match when she agreed to de­tour from our travel plans in or­der to visit the Pi­ag­gio Mu­seum lo­cated 40 miles west of Florence. In those days I was ob­sessed with mo­tor scoot­ers and badly wanted to see the birth­place of one of the pre­mier mar­ques in his­tory: Vespa.

Dat­ing back to the early 1940s, the name Vespa was coined when com­pany founder, En­rico Pi­ag­gio (not to be con­fused with En­rico Palazzo from The Naked Gun), saw the orig­i­nal MP6 scooter for the first time. “Sem­bra una vespa!” he ex­claimed. “It looks like a wasp!”

Vespa’s as­cent to the throne of the high­est re­garded scooter in the land wasn’t by ac­ci­dent. Over the decades, the scooter de­signs and pow­er­plants have evolved to meet the needs of ever-chang­ing emis­sion reg­u­la­tions, but they have al­ways stuck by a qual­ity uni­body con­struc­tion. Made from pressed steel, the mono­coque fea­tures an in­te­grated en­gine cowl­ing, floor­boards, and front fair­ing that gives each bike struc­tural rigid­ity and longevity. It may not be light, but it is strong.

As an aside, a visit to the Vespa mu­seum is a step back in time and in­cludes ar­guably the most fa­mous bike of all time, a 1962 model that was painted and signed by Sal­vador Dalì be­fore two Spaniards, San­ti­ago Guillen and An­to­nio Ve­ciana, took it on a tour of Europe.

To­day’s Ves­pas are rounder and more con­tem­po­rary look­ing, like this re­cently re­leased Yacht Club edi­tion that comes in a va­ri­ety of en­gine sizes and is most fetch­ing painted sail white with ma­rine blue ac­cents. If you want a re­li­able scooter that can net 71 mpg and give you ul­ti­mate style points at the gro­cery store, there’s noth­ing bet­ter than Vespa. Or, if you’re like me, you can just buy me­mento wrist­watch.

GTS Edi­tion starts at $7,000 Pri­mav­era Edi­tion starts at $4,000 n

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