Mysterious black and white Vespa photo

I have a lazyweb question for the internets. Does anyone know anything about this photo? Like who took it? Where? When? Who’s riding the #90 scooter up a dirt road on the side of a mountain? Is he racing? What type of scooter is that? What does the writing on the photo say? What language is that?

Mysterious old black and white Vespa photo

I have more questions than answers, in fact the only answer I have is where I was when took this shot with my cameraphone. Though I could call the place to see if they have any information, I thought first it’d be more fun to draw on the web’s collective knowledge.

My rudimentary searches turned up blanks, so I bow before anyone who knows the proper incantation to elicit an answer from Google. Of course if you already know something about this photo, that helps too, but if not, I’d definitely be interested in knowing how you found it as much as what you found.



ok so , I can’t read cursive writing, so if you could spell it out that would be great. I think then you can take that information and use a free translator to figure out what it might say.


Well, that definitely looks like an Italian landscape behind him. The scooter looks like a Vespa. I first guessed at 1920s or ’30s but the Vespa wasn’t launched until 1946.

I’m not sure if he’s racing, it doesn’t look like he’s following a racing line, but then his helmet and overalls make him look more like a racer. I’m guessing most normal folk just wore normal clothes for scooters, much like today, and maybe they wouldn’t wear a helmet.

The writing looks Italian. I don’t know Italian so it’s hard to read it but there’s a couple of “di” = “of”. You’d best find an Italian speaker to translate.

A cool photo, good luck!

It’s only part of a sentence and very difficult to read because the author (Carletto, perhaps)”Chuck” in American is saying something about “Alberto placing second behind me” The language is Italian the countryside probably is too and I’m guessing from the motorcycle handlebars and no headlight on the front fender its the 1950s.

ciao, the picture is that of an Italian riding a Vespa.

The sentence, though, is weird, as it’s written by a Carletto (li’l Carl) saying “my dear Alberto, who after me only has…” and the second line says “spirit of a Bersagliere (a military historical corps) and a heart for long-distance races”

The sentence is obviously truncated. It could help if you told us where did you shoot it, me miss the contest! The landscape is almost certainly Italy in the 50’s.

Ale, the “contest” continues, and so far you look to be the winner, at least as far as providing a workable translation. When I have a chance I’ll follow up with the place I took the photo and see if I can find out what they know.


hey there, i am italian and now i see this fotograph i remember a place when i was joung, you see the city in the back- thats in the province calabria near crotone. i am sure that’s a vespa 125 U 1953, with a leather helm what is normal for that time for racers .still today they organise vespa countest’s !!! i am an collector of old vespa models so when i saw the foto i was immediatly sure about the vespa and i but the only thing i didn’t know is that they use them in contest’s….

Via Bryan Bedell of 2strokebuzz: this looks similar to a 1951 Vespa V125cc Sei Giorni

Thanks to 2strokebuzz, we’ve got another lead:

The answer is relatively simple, provided by the excellent book “Vespa: un’avventura italiana nel mondo” by Davide Mazzanti, p84.

It’s the Vespa “Sei Giorni” No. 90 participating in the 26th ISDT (International Six Days Trial) between Varese and San Remo in 1951.

And after the playful smile right driver, it must be Giuseppe CAU.


ciao..è una vespa sei giorni nella sei giorni internazionale del settembre 1951, dalla quale la piaggio ha vinto 9 medaglie d’oro su 10 pertecipanti!!
il pilota non è bruno romano, cau aveva il numero 94, sei vuoi maggiori info esiste un libro della cld libri intitolato sei giorni internazionale, mio padre correva con una vespa sei giorni, un abbraccio francesco italia..


I have this poster. If the race is between Varese and San Remo in Italy, maybe I can get my hands on a map of Italy (AAA maybe?), and figure out if Varese is in the background.


The man was Carlo Merlo, on the Sei Giorni Piaggio team that won the race in 1951. I have just emailed the pic to his son for confirmation. Will let you know. In september next year we (Vespaclub Pinerolo) will be hosting a Commemorative run and a Vespa GS Rally to honour the 30th anniversary of his untimely death.


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