Posts Tagged ‘Vespa’

IMG_2416I live on a quiet little vicolo (alley) just off the main square in town. It’s very private – the entrance to my apartment is the only one on the lane. No cars are allowed to drive down this street, however, foot traffic, motorcycles and scooters are permitted. The motorcycle riders love to park their bikes here (rather than in the designated parking spaces just a few steps around the corner). Italian motorcycles are the iconic epitome of power and sex appeal: Ducati, Aprilia, Vespa. Motorbikes and their owners are immediately deemed “cool” in my book, so I figured living on a street where they congregate makes me cool by association.

I came home last week to find a motorcycle parked directly beneath my kitchen window making it impossible for me to water my geraniums. I left the guy a note on his windshield.

IMG_2072Yesterday I discovered two girls sitting and smoking on my stoop – their scooter helmets lying in the street. Okay fine, young girls need a secluded place to commiserate about boys, but did they have to leave behind their plastic orange juice containers and a bunch of cigarette butts on the ground? Who do they think I am, their mother?

The cigarette butts are starting to pile up. Do you have any idea know how long it takes to sweep up a month’s worth of discarded butts between the cobblestones? Forty-five minutes. That’s right, forty-five minutes! And the thin, hand-rolled ones are the worst!


Is it really necessary to rev your engine for what seems like FOREVER, before driving away?

Today was the final straw…


This is war!

by Toni DeBella


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She couldn’t have been more than 18 or 19 years old. She pulled up on her Vespa alongside my cab on a warm night in Rome. She turned to her right, held her cigarette to her mouth, leaned over and without uttering a single word, the cabdriver reached out and lit her cigarette. She threw out an unenthusiastic “grazie” and drove away. I was stunned and astonished. How did this ragazza, at such a young age, manage to display such bravata?  The confidence and sheer audacity of it! She expected this man to perform on cue and he didn’t disappoint. It was a one-act play and each person had their role and they played it to perfection. More to the point, they played it with style. Romans can make even smoking look sexy!

The dictionary defines “Style” as: 1. a quality of imagination and individuality expressed in one’s actions and tastes; 2. a comfortable and elegant mode of existence; 3. a particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode of action or manner of acting.

Sophia Loren

When we hear the phrase “Italian styling” what does this conger up in our minds? Elegant lines of a Maserati, a certain cut of a man’s suit, sleek and contemporary furnishings, police and carabinieri uniforms designed by Armani, ditch-diggers who look like Gucci models, and Sophia Lorens pushing baby carriages in stiletto heals on ancient cobblestones. It seems incomprehensible that these beautiful women could be as insecure and self-conscious as the rest of us, but it doesn’t matter – Italian women project a belief they are fabulous and deserving of adoration. I buy it, and more importantly, men buy it.  As far as I am concerned, that kind of confidence is the epitome of style.

A Beautiful Obsession

For Italians the term “la bella figura” is not just a saying, it’s a way of life.  My friend claims that an Italian would spend his very last dime for a pair of Dolce & Gabbana jeans before he’d pay his rent. I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration, however it certainly appears that being attractive is obligatory in Italy.  Bebbe Severgnini, the famous columnist and chronicler of the Italian psyche explains it this way, “ ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ sounds like an oversimplification in Italian. We judge books by their covers, politicians by their smiles, professionals by their offices, secretaries by their posture, table lamps by their design, cars by their styling, and people by their title.”

Italian Actor Raoul Bova

My mother, Nancy, came for a visit and we took the train to Rome for the afternoon.  We were strolling near the Piazza Barberini and walking towards us was a classically handsome Roman: tall, dark, curly-haired, chiseled features – you know, your basic Raoul Bova type. After he’d passed, my cute, lively, 78 year old mother turned to me and said, “that was a pretty one”!  Yes, they are “pretty” but being good-looking doesn’t, in itself, translate into “elegant”, “cool” or “stylish”.  A piece of art, for instance, doesn’t move you only by its beauty.  It also must tell a story, evoke an emotion and display depth and dimension.  Italian style: behind those beautiful covers is a lot of life and feeling.  When admiring an Italian’s aesthetic superiority, it’s hard to look away.  And it’s okay to look, in fact, it’s the national pastime of Italy.
by Toni DeBella

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