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The famous "Museo Piaggio" is of course just as affected by the restrictions due to the worldwide pandemic at the moment as many other museums, theatres, stages and galleries. But anyone who wants to enjoy the historical and current two- and four-wheelers from the Piaggio world without having to book in advance and travel can now take a virtual tour of the museum.
In 2000, the "Museo Piaggio" opened its doors in Pontedera in the heart of Tuscany. After the complete renovation in 2018, there are now over 250 exhibits in seven different collections on 5,000 square metres. These not only tell the story of Piaggio, but the entire past of mobility and industrial development in Italy and Europe.
In addition to the rooms for the permanent collections, 340 square metres are reserved for temporary exhibitions. Here, art, technology, zeitgeist and fashion meet: Dalì, Picasso and the Italians Burri, Nomellini, Viani, Pellizza da Volpedo, Fattori or Modigliani have already been on show here.
The heart of the museum is the Vespa exhibition, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world every year. There are more than 140 models on display, including of course the 98cc series from 1946. The 1951 Vespa 125cc, which was ridden in the film by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The Vespa "U", of which only 7,000 were built and which is extremely sought after by collectors. To name just a few.
Nowhere else in the world can you see the prototypes from the early 1940s. The MP5, also called "Paperino" ("Donald Duck"), of which only a few traceable models were built between 1943 and 1944. Or the MP6, the legendary design by designer Corradino d'Ascanio from 1945.
Piaggio was also a pioneer and innovator in the transport sector: via the Ape (1946), Cassone (1953), Calessiono (1956) to the Pentarò of 1962, plus mopeds such as the Ciao, the small car Vespa 400 (1957 to 1961) or the outboard motor Moscone of 1949, also called "The Sea Vespa".
Giuseppe Gilera's motorbikes are legendary and this part of the exhibition features some unique pieces that will bring tears to fans' eyes: 500 Otto Bulloni, Gilera Rondine, the Saturno series and, above all, the 500 Quattro Cilindri, which pulverised all existing records between 1949 and 1957.
ARTWORKS AND SPECIAL VEHICLES
Vespas from the films "Roman Holiday" (1953), "La Dolce Vita" (1960)", "Quadrophenia" (1979) or even "The Interpreter" (2005). Designs by artists such as Mino Trafeli or Ugo Nespolo as well as other curiosities and special collectors' items.
TRAVELLING WITH THE VESPA
Sand, ice, water or snow - the Vespa can be used anywhere. This part of the exhibition deals with the countless special models and possible uses of the Vespa.
Piaggio used the Vespa again and again to demonstrate the quality and performance of their products through modified racing machines. On display are, among others: Vespa 125 Corsa, Vespa Montlhéry, Vespa Siluro, Vespa Sei Giorni and the Vespa 98 Corsa, with which Giuseppe Cau won a hill climb in Rocca di Pappa in 1947 - today the twin town of SIP Scootershop home Landsberg am Lech.
The small but fine exhibition features the Moto Guzzi V8 (1957), Falcone 500 (1958), Galletto 175 (1958) and the unique TOMOTO (2017) by British designer Tom Dixon, created in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Moto Guzzi V7.
Since 1992, Aprilia has won more than 54 world championship titles. The names Valentino Rossi, Loris Capirossi and Max Biaggi are just as inextricably linked with Aprilia as the RS 125, RSV 250 and RSV4 Factory models on display in the "Museo Piaggio".
THE HISTORICAL VESPA ARCHIVE
The Vespa Archive has also been open to the public for many years, but is not part of the virtual tour. Here, writings, videos, photographs and other documents are stored that bear witness to how (not only motorised) Italy has developed economically, socially and culturally since the end of the 19th century.
There is much to see and read on the virtual tour through the hallowed halls of Piaggio. Among other things, there are also videos of old advertising clips. So if it's raining again and there's little motivation to take a ride on your own Vespa - this journey into the past of one of the most famous brands in the world of scooters and racing is both an instructive diversion and an interesting further education.
We hope you enjoy it!
Ralf is managing director and co-founder of SIP Scootershop. He has been riding Vespa since 1990 and even today the working day starts best for him when he rides to the SIP headquarters in Landsberg on his Rally 200. Otherwise he owns a 180 SS, a 160 GS and a VM2 fenderlight Vespa.