Flecks Of Snow In A Piaggio Ape

On a lonely, monotonous street in Berlin winter of ’10, I found this fantastic little Piaggio Ape. Its metal truck bed kept the smallest beads of snow cold and preserved. I think it touched me profoundly, somehow.


The street was just around the corner from the official German Green Party archives, where I was doing some research. It was part of some new housing development, by the looks of things. It was all in the former East and all the streets just south of the archive were filled with old houses covered in graffiti and character. There were a few massive Soviet blocks, as well, which I’ve heard are all leaking now. From my pedestrian’s perspective, it’s all wonderfully charming.

This long street jutted into some ex-factories and warehouse spaces on one side, and knocked down lots on the other. A couple new supermarkets had gone in over the past decade, probably thanks to the big S-Bahn station nearby.

The houses on the block were sweet and nice. They all had little back yards and looked bright and I bet many young families were making lives their. It still looked achingly, woefully dull.

This three-wheeler brightened up the bittercold street immensely.

My first encounter with a Piaggio was in Rome, I think. I was little. I was on a hot midsummer vacation with my family to the northern half of Italy and I saw a green truck just like this flit by through the cobblestone traffic. I remember one old man sitting inside and nothing in the bed.

I wanted one immediately. I didn’t even like cars then – my dream vehicle list had previously included a retired amphibious assault vehicle I had seen in a lot outside of Sacramento and…that was it.

Something about the tidiness of the little trucklet appealed to me so immensely. It was simple and small, and smart and dashing. I’ve since gone on to learn a bit more about these little Italian vehicles, born out of necessity, and endowed with all of the bright, light stereotypes the world heaps on everything from that country.

To my eyes this Ape was just as ‘European’ as the cold, distant block it was parked on, yet it had something that it surrounding lacked. Even when it was covered in snow pebbles, it was warm and charming and lovable.

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