Sunday, 6 September 2015

Museo Piaggio

Vespa Scooters are not technically my thing. I don't know much about tinkering with engines, and oil changes. I can appreciate cool though. And cool is what we got we got visiting Museo Piaggio in Pontedera, Italy.

We got cool, as in this, the Vespa Scooter,


...and cool, as we entered the air conditioned museum when it was forty degrees outside.


It's not all cylinder heads, top speeds and spark plugs. The Museo Piaggio knows how to appeal to many audiences.

Those who like a touch of Hollywood glamour.



Those who like colour.


Those who like the thrill of speed. Racing Vespas.


Those who like a bit of history.
Designed to be used in France in the Second World War, as far as I can remember.


And those who like to know how it all started.
The Vespa, designed Corradino d'Ascanio, an aeronautical engineer who who was not fond of 'uncomfortable and bulky' motorbikes, so set out to improve on them, designing the first in 1946.  



Since 1946 Vespas have been mass produced,


proving so popular that in the first ten years they sold one million,


and four years later, they had sold their two millionth Vespa.


The Vespa has also been subject to much customisation influenced by...

...helicopters


...aerodynamics


...TV programmes


 ..and meat.


Museo Piaggio is housed in an old Piaggio factory,


which was damaged by bombing in the Second World War.


Three years after the end of the second World War, and two years after the two wheeled Vespa scooter was designed, in the same year Italy became a republic, Piaggio launched the Ape, a three wheeled van. It has proved to be Italy's most popular goods vehicle, selling 200,000 in ten years.

  

As with the Vespa they soon moved on from post-war military paint colours.

To red, for fire engines,


and designs from Sicily.



The Ape has been tested to extremes with several round the world expeditions.


Including a six month, 25,000 kilometre, journey from Spain to China across twenty countries to celebrate the Ape's fiftieth anniversary.


If you fancy customising your own Vespa, you have the chance in the kids area.
My kids weren't really young enough but enjoyed the opportunity anyway.



The Vespa, so called because "sembra una vespa!", "it looks likes a wasp!".
Old and new, has it changed that much in sixty-nine years?


Museo Piaggio is air-conditioned and open Tuesday to Saturday and the occassional Sunday.
Check their website, here, before you visit as you might just turn up at 1pm on a Saturday when they're closed for an hour for lunch. Just time enough to pop into town for an ice cream.


28 comments:

  1. Yes, that's cool! Really enjoyed your tour, which brought a few smiles. Slightly surprised by your comment that you can remember as far as the Second World War... :-)

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    1. Ah yes. Well spotted. That's made me smile.

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  2. What a great post, Katherine. The Vespas are iconic, the stuff of legends. It brings back memories of my youth, when I rose a little red scooter - not a Vespa, but the same idea. I loved it, rode it around the city for about six years, until I was married and expecting my first baby. Then it had to go :(

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    1. Perhaps you have more scooter years ahead of you? I'd be so thrilled if I knew that I'd inspired a scooter riding revival for you. keep me posted.

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  3. A Vespa mith on board rocket launcher?! That's hard to beat!

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    1. There were so many more amazing scooters in the Piaggio Museum, including one signed with paint bt Savador Dali.

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  4. I never could have imagined so many different sorts of Vespas!!! xx

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    1. Hi Amy. See the comment above about Dali. There were a few 'works of art' scooters there too. I kind of ran out of blogging space. I often wonder if my posts are the right length or I could add more. Any feedback appreciated. You can be honest. Honestly x

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  5. What a fantastic museum. So much variety and so colourful, and really interesting history.

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    1. Thanks. I hope that these posts encourage museum visiting. Let me know if you hear of anywhere good to visit. Especially in France.

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  6. Great museum - I do wonder if there is a little Vespa lurking beneath the little iconic green and yellow taxis that we saw in India.

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    1. I reckon there may well be. Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm very much enjoying yours.

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  7. What an interesting place to visit.
    All those bright colours and the art work on the vehicles was a delight to see, thank you for sharing.
    Am now singing Look at me I;m Sandra Dee in my head because of seeing Troy Donahue on that poster!
    Lisa x

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    1. I know! I had that song running through my head when I saw the poster. nearly added it to the blog post. very happy that it's come to light via your comment.

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  8. I love them all! Not sure I'd be brave enough to ride any around London streets though

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    1. Me neither. We did sit on a couple in the museum. Good enough for me.

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  9. Hello Katherine and thank you for visiting and commenting at my blog. The Museum of Flight is in Scotland on the East Coast. Those little scooters were ridden around Sicily when I lived there with much alacrity (and without any protective headgear) and on more than one occasion, nearly mowed me down! Love those colours though.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know. For a while I thought the Museum of Flight may be overseas. I'll add it to my to-visit list.

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  10. So stylish - no wonder they have stood the test of time with such fabulous lines and colours.
    Niche museums such as this one really know how to showcase their subject - and air con on a boiling hot day makes it even better.

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    1. I don't think they actually planned for this to be a permanent museum. They put together an good exhibition and then kept it going. It was great.

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  11. Great post! The eternally stylish Vespa! All the different paint colours and designs are very exciting to look at. X

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  12. Who knew that such museums existed? I remember well the days when Vespas and Lambrettas were the height of cool with the mod generation.

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    1. I think perhaps they are still the height of cool. Wrapping up warm to ride on them in Britain probably takes a little away from their romantic, cool image.

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  13. Looks a fascinating place - I love all the vibrant colours of both scooters and the larger vehicle - there doesn't seem to be that much difference between old and new vespa scooters, just a slightly more curvy, modern shape:)

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    1. I know, the Vespas have hardly changed. It's the old adage. "If it ain't broke..."

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  14. I am SOOO glad Yannick shared this with me on Twitter.

    I've been a Vespa rider for almost 10 years and of course I love them.

    f truth be told, in London, unless you have a private locked garage, your Vespa will be vandalised and abused. I don't look at mine anymore as a design object but more a vehicle to get me from A-B.

    I dream of a customised Vespa one day...

    Love your storytelling and your fab pictures and am really glad to have discovered your blog!

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    1. I'm impressed, riding Vespas for 10 years. Thanks for the blogging encouragement. Let me know what you think of future posts. Hope to meet Yannick in one of his tours soon.

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