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June 2021 – A romantic story starring an engaged couple, Valerio Bertolone and Marianna Achille, and their vintage Vespa. Valerio recounts: “In June, we did a photo shoot in Sicily, in a gorgeous place: a scenic area overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Eolie Islands, located in a historic village. We did the shoot with my FMI-registered 1978 Vespa 50 Special. We decided to take the photos on the Vespa, because with our 50 Special we have travelled practically the entire northern coast of Sicily, from Messina to Palermo, and it was while touring with my Vespa some time ago that I met my fiancée. I am sending the photos from the shoot, dedicating them to the Wide magazine readership and all Vespisti.” Everyone is invited to visit the beautiful land of Sicily, now in the process of fully reopening.

And we, who are curious, want to get to know this couple better, including the way they met, inspired by an elegant vintage Vespa playing “Cupid”.

Valerio continues: “We are 30 years old and I am from Brolo, a small town in the province of Messina. Marianna is from Villabate, a town just outside of Palermo. I am self-employed, brokering and trading pistachios (editor’s note: a Sicilian delicacy), one of the major production markets in the world for food industries. Marianna is a practising lawyer. We met in Palermo, during a brief Vespa road trip last year.

We saw one another by chance and she seemed more interested in the Vespa than in me. At that point, I ask her if she wanted to go for a ride and she told me that she didn't accept rides from strangers, so I said, ‘Pleased to meet you. I'm Valerio. Now we are no longer strangers’.” Not long after that, we were a couple.

We took the photos in Piraino, in the province of Messina, at a scenic overlook called La Guardiola’ that dominates the entire gulf of the Saracena Coast, from Capo d’Orlando to Capo Calavà across from the Eolie Islands.

I am a member of the Vespa Club of Sant’Agata di Militello (Messina). Marianna and I have ridden the Vespa all along the entire northern coast of Sicily, the Nebrodi mountains and we would like to go to the Eolie Islands in a few weeks, so by ferry from the Milazzo port and then free to move around with the Vespa, taking the traditional photo near the volcano’s crater.

I have always had a passion for Vespa and I have always loved the 50 Special, which I purchased from an enthusiast in 2018 and restored entirely. We would like to purchase - maybe as early as next year - a Vespone (editor’s note: means Vespa GT) 150 or 200 to tour all of Sicily, particularly the Southeastern coast (Noto, Syracuse, Ortigia, Ragusa Ibla, Marzamemi, Pachino, Punta Secca, etc.). And I'm sending the photo of a Vespone with the ‘Montalbano’ house in the background (editor’s note: at Punta Secca, a fraction of Santa Croce Camerina in the province of Ragusa, where the story of the renowned fictional commissioner created by famous Italian writer Andrea Camilleri is set).

In the meantime, we gave ourselves the gift of this engagement photo shoot. We chose to take the photos on the Vespa because we wanted it to be present, since it is the vehicle that brought us together and on which we have travelled many miles, and because, as an auteur cinema lover, we wanted to emulate (with all due humility) one of the main scenes of Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.” And you did a great job of it! Our best wishes to Valerio and Marianna for your unforgettable travels astride your Vespa, a faithful companion for life.

(Images courtesy of Valerio Bertolone and Marianna Achille).