Believe it or not this kind of vehicle is very common in Italy. I’m not talking here about rural Italy but Italy, in general. Have you ever seen it? It’s called ‘Ape’ (lit. ‘Bee’) and is made by Piaggio.
You may come across an ‘Ape’ in the countryside (as it is mostly driven by peasants who use it to carry any kind of transportable goods such as: fruits and vegetables, hay, gardening tools… on Sundays you may even happen to see an old couple gussied up on their way to Mass!) but also in small and large towns. I took the picture of the red ‘Ape’ in Rimini, the Roman Ariminum, an Italian average-sized city in Emilia Romagna. The ‘Bee’ was parked in front of the central Wholesale Market (I liked the contrast between the red vehicle and the old ruined building with a column sticking out… that looked very Italian to me!).
You don’t need to have a driving license to drive it and the young living in the countryside (waiting to turn 18) use it at night to go to the disco or to go out with friends. In addition to that, I guess it has become pretty ‘fashionable’ if you find it in Viale Ceccarini in Riccione (one of Italys’ most famous streets) promoting Martini!
Driving an ‘Ape’ is very similiar to driving a motorcycle as it has no steering wheel but regular handlebars!
I remember that when I attended the University in Urbino (the breathtaking Renaissance city, World Heritage, I have often written about), ‘Apes’ used to drive me nuts. As a matter offact, almost every day I drove my car along the winding road between Pesaro, on the coast, and Urbino, in the hinterland, I happened to find an ‘Ape’ right in front of me driving at its ‘maximum’ speed of some 30 km per hour (practically a fast horse!). As I was always late for classes I remember trying to overtake but, being the route a bow-road, I had to always stay behind and wait (I guess – now I realize – that it was some kind of Zen excercise…).
Anyway, when I visited the Tourism Fair TTG Italy in Rimini last October (in order to attend a Travel Blogger Event called TBD Italy) I happend to see the most curious kind of ‘Tourism Ape’ ever: a city-tour vehicle for tourists. I guess it’s a good idea even though I don’t know if – technically speaking – the vehicle can still be considered an ‘Ape’ (has 4 seats instead of 2 and has no ‘open air’ space!). Maybe I should ask Mr. Piaggio…
Following are 2 ‘Apes’ I photographed in Pesaro. The first one was driving during the Carnival Parade (Feb. 9th) whereas the second, an advertising ‘Ape’ was parked this morning in a little parking place near our historical centre.
I like the red ones best of all. And you?