The “Befana del Vigile”
History of a tradition
Published on 04 January 2024
In 1946 – in the same year Vespa was born – in Italy was inaugurated a tradition that would characterize for decades Christmas holidays in italian cities: the “Befana del vigile” (“Befana” of the traffic cop).
On January 6 (the day of Epiphany), private citizens, companies and shopkeepers used to bring gifts and sweets to the traffic cops, cold in their platform in the middle of the urban traffic. The event was joyfully renewed every year and witnessed by the photographers’ flashes.
The main Vespa Clubs took part in the celebrations, staging parades of Apes and Vespas loaded with gifts. An involvement favored by Piaggio, whose interest was to deny the malicious rumors that portrayed Vespa as one of the most bitter enemies of the traffic cops. The “Piaggio Magazine” wrote in 1953, giving an account of the renewed success of the eventi in Rome, Milan, Turin, Genoa, Catania and Vicenza: «lt was a significative evidence of the brotherhood and actual cooperation by now existing between traffic operators and Vespists, which quite denies the unfair and blased advertising paper campaigns that would regard the motorscooter as the worst enemy of road and street traffic and the traffic managers as its unrelenting foes».
A forgotten advertising communication tool, of which Piaggio Historical Archive retains important traces, as you can see in the photo gallery below.