“Roman Holiday” and the Vespa “Farobasso”
The “Roman Holiday” Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn spent roaming Italy’s capital is one of the best known and imitated around the world. Scene after scene, the Vespa ridden by the two lovers turned into an unforgettable icon, and certainly contributed to the success of William Wyler’s 1953 romantic comedy (twelve million dollars at the box office).
In turn, the movie was the best advertisement for any Vespa since then, including this 1952 Vespa 125, V30T – also known as “Farobasso” because its headlight is placed on the front fender instead of at handlebar height (an innovation that Piaggio had implemented a few years earlier).
Sixty years later, the scooter designed by Corradino D’Ascanio and patented in 1946 is still one of the most popular icons if Italian design, and has been included as such in the permanent collection of New York’s MoMA.
Its main technical innovation was the enclosed engine mechanism that hid dirt and grease, protecting riders from accidental stains.
However, we have reason to believe that the journalist and incognito princess who made cinema history would have been too in love – with each other, and with Rome – to notice any oil marks on their clothes.