Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tuscan Loop - Museo Piaggio

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.
The thing that struck me most was how quiet the plant was for a weekday. I didn't expect to hear a 19th century cacaphony of hammers pounding metal amid showers of sparks, but I've seen more evidence of industry in the average hospital or even funeral home.

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.
As you can see I was drawn to the arty aspects of the experience.

Sonja and Roland on the other hand did a better job of revealing the museum and its collection. The following pictures are theirs.
You've come this far, and I know you are expecting this to be the end of the Tuscan Loop.

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.


Trobairitz said...

All great pictures. I find it odd that you aren't greeted at the Museum. Wander into any Wal-Mart and there is someone to greet you, but not at the famous museum. Maybe they just think it the brand speaks for itself, or they didn't want to impede your wonder and awe.

RichardM said...

The museum seems to be a pretty good setup. What is the significance of the streetcar/train? Is that one of their products?

I suspect that if you had contacted their media relations dept in advance, you could've met someone. In a lot of venues, bloggers and press are treated similarly.

SonjaM said...

David, you have indeed a point. I found it also odd that nobody was around except for (not even a handful) of other visitors. I wonder if Piaggio will eventually stumble over your blog and pick up the marketeer's slack.

David Masse said...

Brandy, it's like you get to the pearly gates and no one's there to take attendance. It's a really easy fix. Heavens, the cashier could do double duty. Zero additional overhead.

David Masse said...

Richard the train is a legacy product. It's odd because Vespa dominates the museum, followed by Apes (basically also Vespas). So they know that one of their many brands warrants a shrine, but they haven't put two and two together. It just seems like such a missed opportunity.

I've read that Ferrari makes more on swag than cars. Piaggio might be able to leverage that too.

You're right, we could have pre-advised of our visit, but speaking for myself, I would have felt pretentious, which I swear I'm not.

David Masse said...

Sonja, I think someone would have to explain blogging to them first. Then they might stumble.

It was nice having the museum to ourselves though. I noticed from Google+ModernVespa that the bikes are more accessible than a few years back when everything was cordoned off. Winds of change no doubt.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.