Vespa or Lambretta?
You cannot imagine how important is this question. According to the researches of some prestigious universities—of which I don’t remember the name now, maybe Indian labs—the answer mathematically determines your belonging and philosophy of life. People can be divided into a number of different categories; it is true. However, believe me, there is a profound cultural breach between the Vespa and Lambretta parties—you must be aware of that especially when you are going to choose your partner or friend.
In the long run, that kind of differences can destroy whatever relationship.
I learnt it very well, even though I cannot tell you about a sad but personal affair. What you have to know is that in the parochial Sardinian world of the 60s, you always had to choose your side. As well as there were fans of Sofia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida, two actresses differently busty, so there were convinced lovers of the Vespa, which was a scooter fashionable and slightly snob, and fans of the Lambretta, an honest scooter with superior technical performances but not a comparable image altogether.
Of course, the students of the Liceo Classico, the most prestigious high school in town, chose the Vespa as well as the elegant Fausto Coppi as a preferred racing cyclist, and Inter as a football team.
We, the outsiders of the Liceo Scientifico, opted for the Lambretta (like our beloved UK band known as ‘Mods’), for Gino Bartali who was a generous and unlucky worker of the pedal, and for the Milan Club, back then not with many followers. And, of course, for Gina Lollobrigida who was the inspirer of all our wet dreams.
The famous photo of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on Vespa in the movie “Roman Holiday,” sweet and affected, so artificial, was the perfect framework for the Liceo Classico teenagers’ comedies. To us, the photo “American Girl,” by Ruth Orkin, that showed an Italian street of the 50s, an old Lambretta on the right side, and people looking at a foreign girl, was more realistic and effective. Life was not a romantic tale but hard competition, fights and conquers, and that picture was a neo-realistic masterpiece (I still believe it is).
Now, as it often happens under the sun, sparks flew when a boy from Liceo Scientifico got together with a girl from Liceo Classico—William Shakespeare said everything about those troublesome romances. But that’s another story indeed, as I said. However, if you want to know the end, wait for the memoirs I have in mind, with the tentative title of “Gone with the Sardinian wind,” one more book still in my endless pipeline, what a pity.