An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Motorcycle Memories

I have a thing for motorcycles. Not the big bikes, but Vespas . . . the quintessential Italian scooter perfect for cobblestone streets and winding through the hills of the Italian countryside.

I have my Uncle Silvio, il mio zio italiano, to thank for this.

When I was a little girl he had a beautiful burgundy Vespa, and with my sister standing in front and me sitting behind, he would take us on afternoon rides through the farmlands of San Martino. Sometimes I would get a special trip when we snuck out without my sister (sorry Ua!) and I would then have my zio (and the vespa) all to myself.

Occasionally we would venture into downtown Verona, going through the city’s big, stone archways, weaving in and out of traffic, and then climbing Salita XX Settembre to visit his parents.

And every excursion would involve a stop at a bar for a popsicle, un ghiacciolo.

At different times of my life I have had the opportunity to revisit those childhood Vespa rides so that now I have several motorcycle stories. My favorite one involves an Italian college student and a sunny day in Spain . . .

During my summer study abroad, our final two days were spent in Barcelona. The problem was that by then we were all BROKE. We had no money for transportation, entrance fees, or even food. One meal was a shared jar of peanut butter, all of us huddled around it with spoons . . . we were that broke.

That night, however, we met a group of Italian college students who were spending the summer driving through Spain. They very graciously volunteered to drive us around the next day. Since none of them spoke English, and I was the only one in my group who spoke Italian, I was the official translator.

The next day we met the Italians in the lobby and we divided into groups. The organizer of their group asked me to ride with him, and I just about fainted when we walked outside and I saw his motorcycle. Gulp.

All my friends were squished into cars, but I got to ride on a motorcycle holding on tightly (well, he did take sharp turns) to a very cute Italian guy.

I don’t remember much of what we saw that day, but I do remember that incredible feeling of freedom and youthful abandonment. I also remember my friends teasing me and telling me to quit smiling or I was going to have gnats embedded in my teeth.

But that smile on that sunny afternoon in Barcelona was an echo of my smile on those first Vespa rides with my uncle.

Grazie Silvio. Buon Compleanno.


Lisa said...

Oh, Bia, what a wonderful post ~ what wonderful memories! I feel like I've just ridden around behind you on these trips! Do you have a vespa or motorcycle now, or would you get one if you could?

Tiziana said...

Cara Maria è bellissimo che tu abbia questi ricordi, Silvio ne sarà felice. E' ancora molto appassionato di moto, però di quelle più grosse. Come regalino gli abbiamo fatto l'abbonamento ad una rivista di moto.
Chissà quante "cose" hai fatto a Barcellona che tua mamma e tuo papà non sanno. Ciao.

Laura said...

Wonderful narrative, Bia.
I don't know anyone else who has VESPAS as part of his/her childhood memory.

GrandmaK said...

A wonderful story. You can always make me smile with your stories...What incredibly humorous stories you can tell! Have a grand day!&:) Cathy

Bia said...

Lisa, I have never driven one . . . I just like to hold on and ride, so no, I don't have one.

Besides, our city is too big, with too many big cars, and I would get squashed like a bug.

Kathryn said...

I loved reading that, and wish I could take a trip to one of those places!

Cheryl Lage said...

Now I envision you a la Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday...a beautifully recounted memory, Bia!

Love this...and covet your experience (and fluent Italian... ;) )

Kim H. said...

Let me guess. He smelled good too. :) I can totally imagine it -- and Cheryl's description is just what I picture. AWESOME!

Jodi said...

What fun! I have always wanted to go to Italy !


Stop by and enter my GIVE AWAY!

PAOLA said...

ciao Maria,
a nome mio e di Silvio, ti ringrazio tantissimo per il racconto che hai scritto e soprattutto per avere ancora dei ricordi così belli di tanti anni fa! Silvio ed io ieri sera ci siamo seduti davanti il pc ed abbiamo letto il tuo blog e ne siamo veramente rimasti commossi!
Domani cerco delle foto dell'epoca e poi te le mando! ciao e bacioni Paola e Silvio

E said...

those beautiful girls with the long dark hair, red lipstick, and perfect high heels on those tiny little bikes weaving in and out of traffic every time we are in Florence scare me to death.
And you Bia would be one of them. Do you rent them when you visit Italy? I am generally pretty brave and gutsy, but those things scare me silly....