Wasps and Bees

Back in Barga I kept spotting these wonderful little mini-trucks that I had never seen before. One day, as I was riding shotgun with Chris in the art van, I commented on one. “Oh that’s a bee!” he said.


“That’s what we have here, ” Chris explained. “Wasps and bees.”

I was still puzzled, but he soon cleared up the confusion. “You know about Vespas, right?” he asked me.

Image“Oh yes, the Italian scooters!” I exclaimed.

“Well, Vespa means wasp. It sounds like one and if you look at the design from above, it looks like one, too.”

The Vespa was the invention of Enrico Piaggio who was determined to produce a low cost means of transportation for the masses after World War II. Oddly enough, the same company, Piaggio, also started producing a mini-truck  based on the Vespa design in 1948.

ImageThe truck is known as an Ape (pronounced Ah-pay), which means “bee.” It is basically a vespa with a large square trunk and a cabin. It’s produced for workers and small contractors who need to haul heavy loads but don’t want to invest in a large truck – or don’t have room for one.

Both vehicles have two-stroke engines that make a similar buzz, thus the wasp and the bee. This little truck is everywhere in Italy and has been instrumental in the economy. The smallest model, the 50cc engine, doesn’t even require a driver’s license. Yet it lets country people take their goods to markets in the cities. So it has connected people culturally.

The Calessino model (“little stagecoach”) has two seats in back instead of a truck bed and thus can be used as a mini-taxi – perfect for the narrow streets common in Italy.

Gotta love it – wasps and bees. Great buzzzz…

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeanie Ader
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 17:14:18

    ROFL! That “bee” looks like something my hillbilly neighbors would have. Off to post it on Facebook in hopes they see it. >-)


    • thesketchylife
      Oct 02, 2012 @ 17:47:29

      You are too funny, Jeanie! I think this little truck would be a tremendous hit in the US – especially in redneck territory where I live. I think everyone in every country holler would want one. So why are they only in Italy? Maybe your neighbors will see it and start a trend.


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