Vroom with a View

Thursday, May 21, 2009

While on holidays, I like to read something of the place I'm visiting. In Italy, I read Peter Moore's diverting Vroom with a View, his account of travelling from Milan to Rome on a 1960s vespa.

Some facts I gleaned were:

  • Vespas, named from the Italian for wasp, were designed as transport for ordinary Italians still reeling from the second World War. The cost of a Vespa was, however, just a bit less than that of an average Italian salary. So, Piaggeo (the manufacturers) came up with the idea of allowing their customers pay in installments, which was a radical concept for the 1950s. Piaggeo was the first European company to try this, and it paid off with more than half a million Vespas sold by 1953.
  • The Italian phrase cugi - which means tacky or cheesy - comes from the phrase cugini di campagna 'your country cousins'