Meaning behind Piaggio

VespaCIAO /

I am wondering what the meaning behind Piaggio is. I have a 1974 Vespa CIAO Piaggio, do they make just Vespa CIAO's or are they all Piaggios? Does Piaggio mean that it came with turn signals?



Re: Meaning behind Piaggio

They make spaghetti.

Piaggio is the company that makes Vespa. They are now owned by an American company.

Check for details.


Re: Meaning behind Piaggio

Your ciao is actually a piaggio ciao. They just put the Vespa stickers on their for I have heard.

Re: Meaning behind Piaggio

Here is the scoop from What it doesn't tell you is how the name "Vespa" originated.

After WW II Italy was pretty devastated from the war. People needed a vehicle to get around but there wasn't much gas (petro) so whatever they bought had to be fuel efficient. There was also not much manufacturing capability left in the the country and not many spare parts to build from.. So when Dr Piaggio needed wheels for the vehicle he was creating, he used the only wheels readily available, wheelbarrow wheels.

This is why the scooter originated with small wheels.

When Dr Piaggio rolled out his first prototype, a bystander commented it looked like a "Wasp" which is Vespa in the Italian language. The name stuck and that's the real story.

The marketing story from


Vespa Story

Vespa has not only given its stamp to an entire epoch, it even became the symbol of a Europe struggling to rise from the catastrophe of the Second World War.

Piaggio came out of the conflict with its Pontedera plant completely demolished by bombs.

At the company's helm was Enrico Piaggio, having taken over from his father Rinaldo. Enrico decided to leave the aeronautics field and pay his attention to problems of personal mobility. Italy's broken economy and the disastrous state of the roads did not lend to fast developments in the automobile markets. But hunger for mobility required immediate answers. From an intuition of Enrico Piaggio's, in the spring of 1946 the Vespa was born.

Corradino D'Ascanio undertook to design a simple vehicle, robust and economic but comfortable and elegant, one which could be driven easily by anyone, women too, and which would not dirty the driver's clothes and would permit carrying a passenger.

D'Ascanio, a genial aeronautics engineer, had been with Piaggio since 1934 and was responsible for the project and construction of the first modern helicopter.

D'Ascanio, who could not stand motorbikes, dreamed up a revolutionary vehicle. Dipping into his knowledge of aeronautics, he imagined a vehicle built on a frame and with a handlebar gearchange. He mounted the engine on the rear wheel. The front fork, like an aircraft's landing gear, allowed easy wheel changing.

In April of 1946, the first 15 Vespas left the Pontedera works. The first Vespa had a 98cc two-stroke engine giving 3.5 hp at 4,500 revs. It reached 60 kilometres per hour and had 3 gears.

This was a real two-wheeled utility vehicle. But it did not resemble an uncomfortable and noisy motorbike; it emanated class and elegance at first glance.

Vespa's success was a phenomenon never to be repeated again. By the end of 1949, 35,000 units had been produced. Italy was getting over its war wounds and getting about on Vespas. In ten years, one million were produced. By the mid-fifties, Vespa was being produced in Germany, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Spain and, of course, Italy. And only a few years later, in India and Indonesia too.

The 125 of 1948, the legendary 150 GS of 1955, the 50cc of 1963, 1968's Primavera, the PX, born in 1978 and still today produced in the classic 125, 150 and 200cc versions are just some of the steps that have distinguished the technical and stylistic evolution of the world's most famous two-wheeler.

But Vespa is not just a commercial phenomena. It is an event that has involved the story of social custom. During the "Dolce Vita" years, "Vespa" meant "scooter"; foreign newspaper correspondents described Italy as "Vespa country", and the role Vespa played in Italian society is shown by its appearance in dozens of films.

One is struck by Vespa's ability to live on from one generation of youngsters to a different one, subtly modifying its image each time. The first Vespa offered mobility to everyone. Then, it became the two-wheeler for the time of economic boom. And during the sixties and seventies, it was the vehicle for the propagation of the revolution of ideas that the kids of those years were establishing. Advertising campaigns like "Who Vespas gets to eat the apple" have symbolised an era in our history.

And the story goes on today with the new generation of Vespa ET.

In over 50 years of history, Vespa has fascinated millions of people, giving the whole world a unique image of Italian style and remaining the irreplaceable means of personal transport, synonymous with freedom.

Re: Meaning behind Piaggio

david f martin /

I helped a customer the other day with his sunroof (67 Beetle, I work at a VW shop) ... He owns a bicycle shop a couple of blocks away, and collects Vespa scooters.

I told him the story about my variator belt while he checked out my '87 Elite. This is what he told me about Piaggio...

Piaggio made airplane engines back in WWII for the Italian airforce. Italy, under Mussolini, was an ally of Germany under Hitler.

When Hitler and his allies lost the war, Piaggio no longer had airplanes to make engines for. So, they took the starter motor (the little motor that gets the big motor going) and built the Vespa around it.

I haven't yet had a chance to look at one up close... He tells me that the motor is mounted rather awkwardly on the right side of the bike, but that leaves room for a spare wheel on the left. (I'm talking about the original scooters, not what Piaggio is making nowadays...)

Pretty cool story. I don't know much about Vespas, but from what I've read about them, I want one. And a Cushman, too.


Re: Meaning behind Piaggio

I believe it. Germany's ME-262, the world's first production jet fighter that saw service at the end of WWII had two two-stroke motors in front of each turbine. If you look at a picture of one, you will see a hole in the cone in front of each jet engine. Inside is a pull ring that attatches to the recoil starters. At remote strips where no electric starting carts were available, the little engines could be used to spool the turbines and get the "furnaces" lit. Those Germans were pretty ingenious. Thats why Puchs are so good!

Re: Meaning behind Piaggio

In Italy,

Piaggio is the parent company.

Vespa is the model name of the scooters.

Ciao is the model of the basic moped.

Because the Vespa brand was recognizable in the US at the time the mopeds were imported (and the American import company was named Vespa of America), the Vespa name was attached. If you look at the ID tag on the Ciao, you'll see that it is made by Piaggio S.p.A. S.p.A. stands for "Societa per Azione." It is sort of like "Corp." in the U.S.

Chris S

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