We pulled into the driveway entrance of the massive Piaggio plant where our Vespas first saw the light of day. To a Vespa owner it's a little like the promised land.
We parked the bikes to the left of the entrance and prepared to tour the museum.
There was already one Vespa parked there which explains the four bikes, if you were expecting to see only three. We met the owner when we were getting ready to leave. She was a young German lady. Imagine her surprise when Sonja and Roland introduced themselves to her.
Entrance to the museum is free. And unattended. The only soul to be seen was the cashier in the museum gift shop. She was quiet and demure, to the point perhaps of seeming to be bereft of enthusiasm.
I didn't expect to be greeted by a delegation of Piaggio executives, much less to be offered some free Vespa swag. But hey, Sonja Mager and I are serious Vespa bloggers. We are volunteer ambassadors for the brand. Ken Wilson, Steve Williams, Dave Dixon, Orin O'Neill, Peter Sanderson, Bill Leuthold and others, are assets that Piaggio should at least acknowledge. And yet Piaggio seems officially and unofficially oblivious to the exposure we bloggers and ModernVespa.com forum participants lavish on their products. I guess they don't get social media. What they should be doing is monitoring the web and social media sites so that they know how the brand is faring for better or for worse. They should know who their brand ambassadors are.
It's certainly true that the praise and devotion for the Vespa brand are well earned. But it seems to me that if I were the marketing manager for the brand, I'd make sure I had someone greeting visitors at the museum and finding out who they are.
When bloggers and serious brand ambassadors come calling at the museum, I'd find a moment or two to chew the fat, express some appreciation, and make them feel welcome. "Welcome to the Museo Piaggio! Where are you from? Do you own a Vespa or other Piaggio motorbike? If you care to, please sign in on our visitor guestbook."
Piaggio may own the rights to an icon, but that's where the story begins and ends. They built a decent museum and I guess they figure that's enough.
Anyone who questions whether Vespas have earned the top spot as the world's most iconic motorbikes will find all the convincing they may need at the Museo Piaggio.
I think I'll just let the pictures do the talking for a change.
Sonja and Roland on the other hand did a better job of revealing the museum and its collection. The following pictures are theirs.
Geographically you'd be right, but there's still a little more virtual ink to be spilled before the Tuscan Loop can be considered officially closed.