Scooter owners in Genoa, home of the Vespa, are celebrating a partial victory after the city’s mayor postponed a ban on models produced before 1999 intended to tackle pollution.
The hashtag #handsoffmyvespa has gone viral on social media, with furious bikers in the northwestern coastal city – which has more motorcycles per capita than anywhere else in Italy – repeating the slogan: “Born in Genoa, died in Genoa “.
In December, Mayor Marco Doria signed an anti-smog initiative due to go into effect in February, which is said to have blocked nearly 20,000 two-wheeler drivers.
But the measure banning their use in large areas of the city center between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. sparked such a backlash that it was suspended until April to give people time to organize alternative transportation – and could still be. abandoned.
“This really shouldn’t be happening,” Vittorio Vernazzano of Vespa Club Genova told Corriere della Sera. “Especially not in 2016, the 70th anniversary of the birth of the Vespa, and in Genoa, where it was produced in 1946 by a Genoese entrepreneur, Enrico Piaggio.
The city has fewer cars than any other in Italy, with the exception of Venice, where the main mode of transportation is by boat or gondola, and pro-Vespa activists say Genoa’s public transport services are poor.
But Italo Porcile, an environmental expert, is determined not to give in to the pressure. “I love the Vespino, I had one myself,” he said. “But Euro 0 [a model produced before 1999] pollutes terribly and public health is more important.
Piaggio, which started producing locomotives and then fighter jets, invented the Vespa after WWII when the country’s roads, badly damaged by bombing, needed an alternative to cars for the masses.
With its distinctive stamped steel frame, the Vespa was made famous outside Italy by the 1953 film Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.