On the Chianti roads in Tuscany, you will not only see cyclists, but also mini carriers on three wheels, the “Ape” or, in English, the “Bee”.
The “Ape’s”, multipurpose vehicles, small three-wheeled pick up’s, are aptly named, because, as bees, for nearly 70 years, they have been busily buzzing throughout Italy, carrying all kinds of goods in their trunks, such as barrels of wine, hay, plants, bricks, building materials… and often families. The tiny cabin is often occupied by an old farm hand and his wife, forced in a tight embrace because of the small space.
The Ape’s have been designed by Corradino D’Asciano, an aeronautical engineer who also conceived the famous Vespa scooter. He borrowed from it the handlebars, the engine and the single wheel at the Ape’sfront . They are produced since 1948 by the Piaggio Company, the headquarters of which are located near Pisa in Tuscany. Lightweight, easy to drive, fuel efficient, agile, versatile, easy to park and to drive in the narrow streets of Italian medieval cities and towns, these exceptional vehicles have become famous around the world! Their design has certainly evolved over the years, for example a new model has been created in 1982 by Giorgetto Giugiaro, one of the most famous car designers, but their unique physiognomy remains unchanged. Many people have also personalized their Ape’s in different ways, depending on their trade or region. A wine specialist coming often to Villa le Barone to conduct wine tastings, has a beautifully decorated Ape that makes our envy! Some owners call their Ape by the endearing name of Apino (little bee).
The “ape” has certainly written a page of Italian history, contributing to the economic boom experienced by Italy during the second half of the 20th century.
You will be able to see Ape’s of all types busy around Villa Barone! They have certainly well replaced the oxen driven carriage “Barone Folco”, witness of the old Fattoria’s activity , now transformed into a charm hotel in Chianti!