Founded in Genoa in 1884 by Rinaldo Piaggio, who was twenty years old, the company Piaggio initially dedicated to the construction of nautical decor in order to extend its activities to the construction of railway carriages and wagons, engines, trams and special truck bodies.
Meanwhile, in the First World War, Piaggio entered in the aircraft industry, a business in which it will operate for the next decades.
So began the production of airplanes and seaplanes, as well as the acquisition of new plants in 1917 an aircraft factory in Pisa, four years after a small plant in Pontedera which would become the center of aeronautical production of Piaggio (propellers, engines and complete aircraft, including advanced Piaggio P108 in passenger and bomber versions).
In the years before the Second World War, and during the War, Piaggio is one of the leading Italian manufacturers of aircraft.
1946 : THE INVENTION
Rinaldo Piaggio’s sons, Enrico and Armando, immediately after the war took care of the new start of industrial production.
The hardest work fell to Henry, who had to rebuild the great Pontedera factory destroyed by the war, even recovering part of the machinery transferred to Biella, north of Italy.
Enrico Piaggio decided for a total restructuring of industry, focusing on the individual mobility of a country coming out of war.
He created a vehicle destined to great celebrity, thanks to the extraordinary Corradino D’Ascanio‘s design work (1891-1981), an aeronautical engineer and a brilliant inventor.
THE BIRTH OF LEGEND
The Vespa was born by Enrico Piaggio’s determination to create a low-cost product and consumer. As we approach the end of the war, Enrico studied every solution to restart production at its plants.
Beginning with that of Biella, where a “motorscooter” similar to a small motorcycle for paratroopers was made . The prototype, called MP 5, was called “Paperino”
( “Little Duck”) because of its strange shape, but Henry didn’t like it,and he commissioned Corradino D’Ascanio to review the project.
But the aeronautical engineer didn’t like the motorcycles: in his opinion they were uncomfortable, cumbersome, with tires too hard to change in case of drilling, and, also, soiled, because of the transmission chain. The engineer, however, found all the solutions necessary drawing on his own experience aviation.
From the new D’Ascanio’s project was born a means of transport that had nothing to do with the old “Paperino” : a completely original and revolutionary solution compared to all the other examples of motorized two-wheeled locomotion. With Mario D’Este’s help, who was his draftsman of confidence, Corradino D’Ascanio took only a few days to develop his idea and prepare the first draft of Vespa, produced in Pontedera in April 1946.
The name of the vehicle was coined by Enrico Piaggio, who, for reasons due to its shape, said: “It looks like a wasp!”
And that’s why the Vespa is so called.
As well as being star of Italian society and not only that, the Vespa was the protagonist or at least in many famous films, from 1953 onwards …
Here are some example:
Vacanze romane, by William Wiler (1953)
I Soliti Ignoti (1958)
La dolce vita, by Federico Fellini (1959)
No, my darling daughter, by Ralph Thomas (1961)
Grand prix (1966)
American Graffiti, by G. Lucas (1973)
Quadrophenia, by F. Roddam (1979)
Sapore di mare, by Vanzina (1984)
Good morning Vietnam (1987)
I miei primi quarant’ anni (1987)
American Pie (1999)
Il Talento di Mr. Ripley – The Talented Mr. Ripley(1999)
Saving Silverman – Evil Woman (2001)
About a Boy – un Ragazzo- (2002)
Alfie (remake del”66) (2003)
Who’s your daddy? (2003)
The day after tomorrow (2004)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
The interpreter (2005)
Munich, by Steven Spielberg (2005)
…Dear Friends, If you come to Valdera, don’t miss a Vespa Tour : it’s the best way to enjoy Tuscany and it’s really amazing! …Trust me!
For information about a Vespa Tour: