TACOMA, Wash. — "Sembre una vespa!" ("It looks like a wasp!")
That's what Enrico Paggio said about the new motor scooter his family company built after World War 2.
The Vespa scooter has come to symbolize Italian elegance, fun, and romance.
Who can forget Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn scooting around Rome in "Roman Holiday?"
That was 1953, but the Vespa has been making a comeback, especially over the last decade. It doesn't hurt that the Italian scooter can get up to 80 miles per gallon and still reach up to 75 MPH.
At South Sound Scooters on Tacoma's Market Street, Mark Helgen owns the only exclusive Vespa and Piaggio dealership in the state.
He says our long Northwest summer days are perfect for scooters.
"Vespa allows you to really concentrate on the world around you and not so much hard-core riding like you would see in maybe a motorcycle where you are shifting gears and focusing on the machine," Helgen said. "We are kind of focused on ourselves and what's going on around and it's great fun. "
The Vespa has a starring role in the recent Disney movie "Luca" and while his name may be mud in these parts after twice postponing and now canceling his Tacoma Dome concert, Justin Bieber has teamed up with Vespa.
"I just remember seeing a Vespa and being like I want to ride one of those," Bieber said. "It allows you have to this freedom."
Bieber had input on a new monochromatic version of the Vespa Sprint Model that sells for between $5000 and $6500, depending on the engine size.
This is Vespa's most obvious gesture to the North American Market in years.
If Bieber Fever has its desired effect, you'll soon see a lot more Vespas on the streets.
South Sound Scooters is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They're located at 1938 Market St., Tacoma, WA 98402.