The Italian Almanac

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Celebration

The Piaggio Group is gearing up to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its Ape three-wheeler, the tiny commercial vehicle built to navigate narrow Italian city streets that later went global. Fans of the Ape (Italian for `bee`) are expected to turn up in force with their own three-wheelers in the Tuscan town of Pontedera, where the Italian Piaggio factory is located. Two days of festivities will include a photographic show, an exhibition of classic Ape models through the ages, and a treasure hunt where competitors will race around the town on the vehicles.

``As well as being uniquely likeable, the Ape is a successful product, well known throughout the world and a versatile companion for workers,`` said Piaggio`s three-wheeler chief Franco Fenoglio. ``Today, after more than two million sold in Europe alone, Ape is still a flagship product for the Piaggio group``.

The Ape was designed by Italian aeronautical engineer Corradino D`Ascanio and first produced by Enrico Piaggio in 1948, two years after his successful Vespa scooter. Around 150,000 vehicles are now produced annually at the Pontedera factory and in Baramati in western India, where the Ape is the market leader for three-wheelers.