Tag Archives: Fiat

Happy Birthday Vespa

24 Apr

70 years ago, on 23 April 1946, Piaggio e C. S.p.A. filed for a patent for a “motorcycle of a rational complexity of organs and elements combined with a frame with mudguards and a casing covering the whole mechanical part.” Hence, the Vespa was born.

In Italian, the word Vespa means wasp. Many think the name refers to the sound it makes, but actually the scooter’s name is derived from the vehicle’s body shape: the thicker rear part connected to the front part by a narrow waist.

The Vespa was born of need. After the WWII, Italy’s economy was crippled and the state of the roads was disastrous. Enrico Piaggio, the son of Piaggio’s founder, decided that since the company was no longer building aircraft, he would  leave the aeronautical field and address Italy’s urgent need for a modern and affordable mode of transportation for the masses.

From their inception, Vespa scooters have been known for their painted, pressed steel unibody which combines a complete cowling for the engine (enclosing the engine mechanism and concealing dirt or grease), a flat floorboard (providing foot protection), and a prominent front fairing (providing wind protection) into a structural unit.

Perhaps the most known Vespa ride was that taken by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn around Rome in the 1952 film Roman Holiday.

A Paramount Picture, William Wyler's Production

A Paramount Picture, William Wyler’s Production

There have been many different versions of the Vespa and today, several series are in production.

According to Vespa.com,

The first sales of Vespa were managed through a small dealer network and the price of the standard model was 55,000 lire, [a bit over $200] while the deluxe version was sold for 66,000 lire. 

Here’s a brief walk through some of Vespa’s history. Photos from Vespa.com.


Vespa.com 1946 Original Vespa

Vespa.com Original Vespa 98 1946

Vespa.vom VESPA 98 CORSA CIRCUITO 1947

Vespa.vom VESPA 98 CORSA CIRCUITO 1947

Vespa.com Vespa 98 II Seire-1947-1948

Vespa.com Vespa 98 II Seire-1947-1948

Vespa.com Vespa 150 Side-Car-1955

Vespa.com Vespa 150 Side-Car-1955

Vespa.com Vespa 125 (VNA)- 1958

Vespa.com Vespa 125 (VNA)- 1958

Vespa.com vespa rally 200- 1976

Vespa.com vespa rally 200- 1976

Vespa.com Vespa 50 S- 1985

Vespa.com Vespa 50 S- 1985

Vespa.com VespaET2ET41996

Vespa.com VespaET2/ET4 1996

Vespa.com 2005_lx

Vespa.com 2005_lx

And today’s anniversary models…



If it weren’t quite so hilly in Cortona, we’d have bought one already. So tempting.  Which is your favorite???




A New Fiat in the Family

3 Jun

Check out our new car…a Fiat 500 L, (cinque cento)


Nice interiorIMG_0615

Comfortable room for four


Lift-gate hidden cargo area


Well, it is new, and it is ours…if only for four weeks.

We took the car for a ride today, off to get coffee and find the sun. And that we did. After driving some winding roads, we headed toward Montalcino to find Avignonesi, a winery we learned of from our friend Patricia. We’ve tried some of their wines and like them a lot, so off we went.


From their website:

The winery is named after the Avignonesi family, the founders of the original estate. Constant research and development aimed at expressing the true character of the Montepulciano terroir has, over time, earned the winery a well-deserved place among the flagship producers of Tuscany. http://www.avignonesi.it

As is true throughout Tuscany, it is impossible to photograph or paint the magnificence and simplicity of the rolling hills.



Avignonesi has a lovely tasting room, and offers tours, lunches and culinary classes. And the customer service is wonderful.


After purchasing some wine, we headed toward the relatively quiet town of Castiglione del Lago, which sits above Lake Trasimeno.



In 217 BC, however, the areas was anything but quiet as Hannibal and the Carthaginians defeated the Romans in one of the most successful ambushes in military history. But today, one lone sailboat.


The lovely town above the lake offers local products, dining, and some great old architecture to locals and visitors alike.




Another day filled with sunshine, until we returned to Cortona storms, but no matter, we enjoyed the day, the sun and the Fiat, which handled the curves, hills and AC quite well. Perhaps this is my next car, Mike? Could be a great city car!



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