No doubt about it, a passion for the Vespa is something you inherit, like a taste for travel and adventure. The story of Roberto and Franco Patrignani is a case in point. Half a century ago, journalist, writer, rider and traveller Roberto Patrignani (Florence 1935 - Milan 2008) completed a celebrated ride on a Vespa from Milan to Tokyo.
Half a century later, to commemorate Roberto’s expedition, his son Franco, an architect, set off from New York in July on his modern Vespa GTS 300 for an exciting coast-to-coast trip across the USA to Los Angeles. Franco’s solo ride was about 8,000 kilometres through memorable scenery in nine States (New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California), and the opportunity to put his wheels on America’s legendary Route 66. A worthy tribute to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his father’s trip, still a milestone in two-wheeler adventures. And in the history of the Vespa.
Mandello del Lario, the home of Moto Guzzi, paid tribute to Roberto Patrignani on his birthday, 21 November, and celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his famous ride on a Vespa from Milan to Tokyo. Roberto’s achievements also included two Milan-Taranto races, two Round Italy events, three Tourist Trophy classifications, world records with the Moto Guzzi 1000 and the Garelli 50, and participation in 150 races, until 1989. Then a series of solo trips (on a Vespa, but also on a Dingo Cross, a 50cc off-road two-wheeler produced by Moto Guzzi between 1960 and 1970, on which he rode to Africa) and a busy career as a journalist and writer. Mandello honoured Roberto with a special event at the “De Andrè” theatre, packed with memories and emotions, stories and photos, video clips and tributes from many other riders. These included Angelo Tenconi (the “king of uphill races”), who with Patrignani and other great Moto Guzzi V7 riders set new world endurance records on the Monza circuit in the second half of the 1960s.