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August 2023 (G.T.) – A mention-tribute to the film “Roman Holiday” is a must for its 70th birthday. directed by American William Wyler, it came out in the States in August of 1953 and was an immediate worldwide success. Thanks to two great leading actors – Audrey Hepburn (in the role of Princess Anne) and Gregory Peck (Joe the journalist) – or rather three, because Vespa is the undisputed co-star of the romantic comedy set in Rome which earned 10 nominations and won 3 Oscars. And so, the Italian scooter, born in 1946, was thrust into international fame that has lasted throughout its 77-plus years of history and success.

ROMAN HOLIDAY - Trailer - Paramount Movies:


The film, a Paramount production distributed worldwide, “launched” the Vespa movement, with rallies and events that gradually multiplied as the film opened in the various countries, also with support from Piaggio.

The “Roman Holiday” Vespa: 1951 Vespa 125 faro basso mod. 51.

There is a letter in the Piaggio Museum from Enrico Piaggio (dated 9 December 1953), addressed to the manager of the Spanish subsidiary in Madrid, asking him to organise “some Vespa events to coincide with the projection of the film Roman Holiday.” Groups of Vespa enthusiasts gathered in front of the cinemas where the film was projected. In Stockholm (Sweden), the -15°C temperatures were unable to stop the Vespa fans, (as recounted by the article published in Piaggio Magazine No. 27 of 1954). Another article highlighted the great success of the film, in Italy and abroad, as well as the skill of the actors in riding the Vespa (Piaggio Magazine No. 38 of 1956).

(Source of images: Historic Archive/Piaggio Foundation and Museum, Pontedera, Pisa, Italy).

From London to Belfast: in October 1953, the British periodical Kinematograph Weekly mentioned the event held by the English Vespa clubs on the occasion of the film’s projection in London, with a rally at Wembley Stadium. In March of the following year, 1954, it would be Belfast’s turn with Vespas queued up in front of the Imperial Cinema.

(Excerpts from articles, source: Historic Archive/Piaggio Foundation and Museum, Pontedera).

The Hollywood film and the Italian scooter were both destined for global success as milestones in the history of cinema for one and mobility for the other. And this year, once again, for the 70th birthday of “Roman Holiday”, Vespa enthusiasts did not let the chance slip by to see the film again (relaunched by TV stations and in the cinemas). A few examples: Vespa Club Pisa – established in 1949, Paolo Lazzerini, president – collaborated with Cineclub Arsenale on the occasion of the recent “celebratory” projection of the film in July, displaying valuable vintage Vespas in the lobby of the cinema. And in Rome, a free showing of the film on 2 August in the Santa Maria della Pietà summer arena.

VESPA AND CINEMA.Vespa is not just an industrial and commercial phenomenon that has lasted for over 77 years. From its appearance on the scene in 1946, it has influenced the history of customs and culture. In the years of the “Dolce Vita”, Vespa became synonymous with scooter and reports from foreign correspondents described Italy as “the country of Vespas.” The role played by this iconic scooter in customs and culture is documented by the presence of Vespas in hundreds of international films. And it's a story that continues to be told today. Inspiring new generations of film-makers.


The specialised website IMCDb (Internet Movie Cars Database: finds over 1,400 titles including films and TV series where Vespa appears, but a proper count of how many Vespas are included in the filmography world is extremely difficult. From the mid-’50s on, Vespa itself had become an “actress” in at least one thousand films from Hollywood to Bollywood, not to mention the Italian and European cinema.


In fact, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in the renowned Hollywood production Roman Holiday (1953), were the first in a long series of world-famous actors who rode the most famous scooter in the world which became a co-star in hundreds of subsequent films including, but not limited to An American in Paris, (1957) by and starring Gene Kelly, and many others, some which have become cult films, ranging from Quadrophenia (1973) to American Graffiti, from The Talented Mr. Ripley to Absolute Beginners (1986) with David Bowie.

And then there were Good Morning Vietnam, American Pie in 1999, Alfie with Jude Law, The Interpreter with Nicole Kidman, The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Ultimatum (both with Matt Damon), all the way to The American with George Clooney and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. by Guy Ritchie. Other blockbusters were Transformers, 102 Dalmatians, Zoolander 2 with Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and Penelope Cruz, To Rome with Love by Woody Allen, Deadpool in 2018 and Gotti starring John Travolta.

ADPtv | La Vespa e il Cinema | 2016

Vespa also boasts participation in spectacular animated films such as Ratatouille (2007), Madagascar 3 (2012), and Big Hero 6 (2014). Not to mention an unforgettable appearance in the eighth season (1996) of The Simpsons. A quote for the American comedy The Lizzie McGuire Movie who turns twenty cannot be missing. The film is from 2003, starring the actress Hilary Duff: she plays a teenager who, after graduating from high school, takes a trip to Rome that will change her life. Hilary is riding a red Vespa (also present in many scenes filmed in the Italian capital) in the poster of the film (blockbuster, produced by Disney) which is the film version of a popular 2001 television series, loved by American teenagers.

Vespa also appears in many TV shows, including the well-known series Romanzo Criminale and How I met your mother. And there are dozens of Italian films with Vespas by Italian masters of the cinema, such as Dino Risi, Federico Fellini (La dolce vita, 1960), Mario Monicelli, from Vogliamo i Colonnelli to Caro Diario and Aprile, both by Nanni Moretti, Romanzo Criminale by Michele Placido and Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (Oscar and Golden Globe winner) by Giuseppe Tornatore. The most recent (2021) include the animated film by Enrico Casarosa, Luca (Disney-Pixar), topping the box office, as well as Cruella, a Disney film directed by Craig Gillespie starring Emma Stone, the prequel to “101 Dalmatians”. In an adrenaline-charged scene, a biker version of the protagonist, Estella, rides a Vespa GS in Mods style.

As a tribute to the filming of Roman Holiday (which began in the capital city in the summer of 1952), last year, the Cinema Foundation for Rome transformed the iconic Via Veneto into a huge open-air cinema hall, with a 10-metre tall screen, projecting the restored version of the film. A big event (in the image above, the poster/invitation created by Silvano “Nano” Campeggi), with orchestra and the vintage Vespa on the stage.
Photos and video of the event:

In photo shoots, films and on set, the Vespa has been a "travel companion" for cinema stars the likes of Raquel Welch, Ursula Andress, Geraldine Chaplin, Joan Collins, Jayne Mansfield, Virna Lisi, Milla Jovovich, Marcello Mastroianni, Charlton Heston, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper, Anthony Perkins, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Nanni Moretti, Sting, Natalie Wood, Brigitte Bardot, Paul Newman, Antonio Banderas, Matt Damon, Gérard Depardieu, Jude Law, Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Nicole Kidman, and Emma Stone. A list that is far from exhaustive, considering the great number of stars from yesteryear to the present who loved and continue to love Vespa.