Piaggio was founded in Genova in 1884 by twenty-year-old Rinaldo Piaggio. In 1917 Piaggio bought a new plant in Pisa, and four years later it took over a small plant in Pontedera and after World War II, witnessed the birth of the iconic Vespa.
The Vespa (which means “wasp” in Italian) was the result of Enrico Piaggio’s determination to create a low cost product for the masses. As the war drew to a close, Enrico studied every possible solution to get production in his plants going again. A motor scooter was produced, based on a small motorcycle made for parachutists. The prototype was nicknamed “Paperino” (the Italian name for Donald Duck) because of its strange shape, but Enrico Piaggio did not like it, and he asked Corradino D’Ascanio to redesign it.
Corradino D’Ascanio only needed a few days to refine his idea and prepare the first drawings of the Vespa, first produced in Pontedera in April 1946. It got its name from Enrico Piaggio himself who, looking at the MP 6 prototype with its wide central part where the rider sat and the narrow “waist”, exclaimed, “It looks like a wasp!”
And so the Vespa was born.
Piaggio sold some 2,500 Vespas in 1947, over 10,000 in 1948, 20,000 in 1949, and over 60,000 in 1950.
When Vespa celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1996, more than 15 million of the scooters had been sold worldwide.
We offer Vespa guided tours in Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi.