Apologies for the title but I couldn’t resist. For those of you who don’t get it, Ape is Italian for Bee but it is pronounced “Appy” and not Ape which is a primate closely related to humans and possibly responsible for this unnecessary article.
As a further revelaton for those who, like me, hadn’t worked it out very quickly, the Piaggio Ape 3-wheeler pickup truck is called a Bee in the way that the Piaggio scooter known as a Vespa translates to Wasp. Clever huh?
Apes were developed shortly after WW2 when Italy needed a low cost commercial vehicle. Whilst Apes have a low top speed, as you have probably noticed, they have a reasonable amount of torque which helps them climb the Tuscan hills. The low top speed is fine in the towns or medieval hilltop villages where it doesn’t matter much but on the main roads it is traditional for them to drive close to the kerb to allow other vehicles to pass. At least that its according to Wikipedia. Unfortunately no one explained that to the Ape driver who blocked the road as I was hurriedly trying to get to Bagni di Lucca last Saturday morning.
Apes are also an alternative to allowing your 14 year old kids to drive a scooter. But they don’t offer that much more protection, no air bags etc but do provide a larger target for other vehicles to hit so I’m not sure this is really the way forward.
I spent 2 years living in Philadephia where it was common to see pick-ups named after another animal. In this case a Ram. So naively I brought a Ram back to Tuscany. Big mistake, it was wider than 2 Apes and wider than most of the typical Tuscan roads around our house. It has only covered 500 miles since it got here in 2005.