Vespa: Hot Wheels

Inspired by aeronautics and adapted by the dolce vita set, the Vespa is still the quickest way to get around

WHEN RINALDO PIAGGIO founded his factory in 1884 at the height of the Belle Epoque, world travel was booming, so ocean-liner fittings naturally were a no-brainer. Soon Piaggio was outfitting luxury trains and car engines too. But when World War II began, he shifted his business to passenger airplanes and bombers—a risky move, because the military importance of his factory made it a prime target. Piaggio's outfit was bombed, and the family lost everything. It wasn't until Rinaldo's son Enrico took over after the war that the Vespa was born.

Concerned about Italy's decrepit highways and bad economy, Enrico Piaggio refocused...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!