Sporting tailor-made suits and listening to modern Jazz, the Mods of the 60s and 70s adopted and cherished the Italian Lambretta as the ultimate symbol of their continental style. Now, 70 years after its birth, the Lambretta reigns still, as demonstrated by the nearly 2000 appassionati from across the world who gathered in Adria (Rovigo) to celebrate the anniversary from 2nd-4th June 2017.
An International Lambretta Rally
The noise of nearly 2000 lambrette, some modified and most accessorised, is electrifying. Around the autodrome near Adria hundreds of pastel coloured and chrome plated scooters are zipping about showing off their tail feathers, while others are parked sedately their front wheels at a cocky angle ready for photographs. People are camped encircling the raceway, and the most prominent image upon entering the track is a giant British flag tacked to the fence behind the campers. The 70th Lambretta Rally boasts impressive statistics: 600 British participants outnumbering 580 Italians! The Mods’ heyday might be over, but the English still treasure the Italian scooter. Just as the lambretta lovers of the 60s and 70s, many of the English scooters are highly accessorised with a forest of extra mirrors and lights on the front, bold British flags, and picnic baskets. A couple of Northern English guys who look as battered as their old lambrette tell me they’ve ridden from Britain camping when they were lucky or simply sleeping by the side of the road.
But the rally attracted fanatics from even further afield: America, Australia, Brasil and Vietnam. Poland, Switzerland and Germany also all made an appearance. But it was an Italian who won the accolade for oldest lambretta rider. Decked out in charming checks, a matching hat, and splendid socks, he had to ask for a little push to get going after our chat! His Lambretta was from 40s after all.
MODifications (Excuse the pun)
From a cowskin seat to pin-up girls with spark plugs:
A Boom for Tourism
Adria sits in the Po Valley, an area of flat lands, small towns, countryside ville, and, of course, the vital artery that is the Po River. It is a zone a little forgotten by international tourism. However visitors to the rally discovered some of its hidden gems such as the beach at Rosolina, the Abbey of Pomposa where the 5 line music stave was invented, the fantastic restaurant ‘Allo Scalo’ in Adria, and the fishing town of Comacchio.
The Lambretta as an Embodiment of Mod Style
The lambretta (and vespa) was adopted by the Mods for both practical and aesthetic reasons. As a cheap scooter it allowed young people to escape their working-class restrictions becoming a symbol of escape. In an era when public transport finished relatively early in the night, the lambretta allowed teens to attend all night parties in clubs, and move around cheaply. But the lambretta was also an essential accessory that proclaimed continental connections. Its sleek chromed body was ideal for the Mods’ tailored style. While the lambrette suffered a period of bad publicity during their abuse by ‘skinheads’, now their classic vintage look (along with vespe though lambretta riders consider themselves far superior!) has provoked a rebirth in popularity.
Newspaper reports covering the event in Italian: