Anne's Blog

Vespa Festival in Assisi: a Resurrection of Roma Memories

Date: May 7, 2019 - categories: , , , , , , - Leave your thoughts

One day in early April, I found myself again on top of a Vespa:  a trio of appassioned Vespa-drivers from Emilia Romagna  –  Roberto, Stefano and Stefano –  had insisted on boosting me onto one of their Vespas for a photo.  They’d just arrived in Assisi  for three days of festivities sponsored by the Vespa Club D’Italia

On top of that Vespa, mamma mia, what memories of junior-year-abroad in Rome and zipping around Roman piazzas on the back of friend David’s Vespa.  I hadn’t been on a Vespa since (though years ago, I used to ride around our Assisi area on my Garelli motorbike).

When I saw the Vespa gathering in early April in front of  Assisi’s Cathedral of San Rufino,  nostalgia roped me into the event.

Vespa-lovers from all over Italy – and from Austria, Spain, Switzerland and Germany, too – were at la Punzonatura (the “punching point”) registering for the competitions and group rides through the Umbria countryside.

When I met the three Vespa-riding friends from Emilia Romagna, I’d asked each why they had chosen Vespa as a transport means.

Roberto told me it was “all in the family” as his grandfather and father had had Vespas.

One of the Stefanos told me he became appassionato as a bambino riding on the back of his grandfather’s Vespa…

…..and the other Stefano told me it was his means of transport for getting to work when he was fourteen:

After registering at the Punzonatura, many riders asked “Vespa icon,” Cavaliere (“knight”) Giuseppe Cau to sign their Vespas. 

Cau was eighteen years old in 1946 when the abbruzese engineer, Corradino D’Ascanio, designed the first Vespa for the Piaggio brothers (having already designed the first prototype of today’s helicopter).

Cau worked in Rome as a mechanic transforming British military motorcycles of all makes into civilian transport modes. Mechanics were his skill, speed his passion…..

His love affair with Vespa began when he repaired one for a client and was later allowed to race it. Vespa racing became his passione.  I asked Cavaliere Cau what the Vespa was for him and he immediately replied with a lover’s sigh:  “Un gioello” (“a jewel”). He told me the Vespa was his life, adding with a twinkle in his eye, a lump in his throat, “la Vespa fu fatta per me”  (“the Vespa was made for me”).

He told me proudly that in all the world, there were only ninety-nine “Super Cau,” the last classic Vespa named after him. When it hit the market, that black Vespas immediately sold out. Cau was also honored by the President of Italy who “knighted” him with the prestigious title of Cavaliere del Lavoro for his years of work with Piaggio.

“I risked my life racing Vespas – as I was such a little guy.  I weighed just over 40 kilos and Dottor Enrico Piaggio himself called me ‘il fantino delle Vespa’ (‘the jockey of the Vespa’).”

Cau – now age ninety-two – was last on a Vespa in 1984 but Vespa remains his life as was clearly evident at the April Assisi Vespa festival.

He’ll take center-stage again in early June at a Vespa round-up in Naples.

David  – and all those Vespa-loving Roma friends of 1968/1969  –  care to meet me there for “old times’ sake”?

See Cavaliere Giuseppe Cau and the limited-edition “Super Cau” Vespa named after him

See Giuseppe Cau in action with Vespa here



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Privacy Policy

Privacy Italian Legislative Decree n° 196/2003 Under Article 13 of the Italian Legislative Decree no. 196/2003, regulations with regard to the Protection of Personal Data, this is an informative report to all interested parties on the modality of the treatment of personal data, arising from interaction with our website
THE PRINCIPAL FOR DATA TREATMENT During site consultation, personal data referring to identified or identifiable persons can be processed. The principal for data treatment is Anne Robichaud Pian della Pieve Assisi 06081 (PG) Italy. The data will be mainly processed at the mentioned head office by the people responsible for the website or by other people appointed for occasional maintenance operations, provided that their actions conform to of the guarantees enshrined in the Legislative Decree 196/2003.
Web navigation The information systems and software procedures required for the functioning of this website, acquire some personal data during their normal service, the transmission of which is implicit in the use of web communication protocols. This information is not collected with the purpose of identifying interested parties, but due to its very nature, the information could lead to user identification through processes and relations with data held by third parties. In this data category there are IP addresses or domain names belonging to computers used by users who connect to the site, addresses with URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) notification of the requested resources, time of the request, used method in submitting the request to the server, dimension of the file obtained in replying, the numeric code mentioning the reply status given by the server (successful reply, error, etc?) and other parameters referred to the operation system and to the user’s information environment. This data is used with the sole purpose of obtaining anonymous statistical information on the use of the site and to check the correct functioning; immediately after processing, the data is erased.
Data voluntarily supplied by the user The voluntary optional and explicit e-mail transmission to the addresses mentioned in this site implies the subsequent acquisition of the sender’s address, necessary to reply to the queries, as well as the other eventual personal data registered in the message.
OPTIONAL PERSONAL DATA SUPPLY Except for the above mentioned navigation data, the user may be asked to supply his own personal data through queries or messages to the email addresses shown in the contact pages. Failure to provide such data may be the cause of the inability to obtain the requested information from the company.
TREATMENT MODALITY The personal data is treated in compliance with the Legislative Decree no. 196/2003 and held only for the time necessary to achieve the aim for which it has been collected. Specific safety measures are taken to prevent any data loss, illicit or incorrect use and unauthorized access.
RIGHTS OF THIRD PARTIES The data subjects are at any time entitled to obtain confirmation as to whether or not data relating to him are held, to know the contents and the origin, to check the correctness, to ask for integration, updating or change (art. 7 Decree Law 196:June 2003). In accordance with the same article, they are entitled to obtain the erasure, conversion into anonymous form or freezing of all data used in breach of the law, to object, on legitimate grounds, to the processing of data relating to him. All requests have to be transmitted to the e-mail address

Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)