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Still nippy at 60, Italy celebrates the Vespa's birth

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Still nippy at 60, Italy celebrates the Vespa's birth

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Italy is celebrating the 60th birthday of the creation of the Vespa scooter. Originally an economical way to get around town, it has become an icon of Italian design and there is even a special exhibition entitled “Vrooooom” in the northeastern Italian city of Riccione to mark the 60th anniversary.

The Vespa was invented in April 1946 by aircraft manufacturer Enrico Piaggio. In 1953 it was the two-wheeled star of William Wyler5;s film Roman Holiday, in which Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn ride around Rome.

It is made under licence around the world, but nearly half of all Vespa’s still come from the Piaggio plant at Pontedera in northern Italy. Some 17 million have been sold and in Rome, there are 1.6 scooters per household. The name means wasp in Italian; that is a reference to the shape of the rounded tail on the original model, not the sound it makes.