Towards the end of my Vespa trip through the sunny parts of Italy, the accelerator cable on my bright orange Rally 200 started to stick. The first time it happened was in Naples, at a set of lights in Riviera di Chiaia. The second, was when I ill-advisedly tried to manoeuvre around a garbage truck down by the port. I needed to get it fixed, but where?
The answer came when I was riding along Via Foria, just down from Piazza Cavour. I spotted a tiny hole-in-the-wall mechanic’s shop. And a sign above the door suggested that it was an official Piaggio workshop.
I hoped that the sign meant that the place had been rigorously tested and deemed worthy by team of pernickety officials from Piaggio. Within seconds of meeting the mechanic, a rough and ready fifty-year-old in blue overalls, I suspected he had won the sign in a raffle.
He didn’t even bother taking Marcello into his workshop. He just took off the cowl, braced himself against the running boards and tugged at the accelerator cable like a worm being eaten by a blackbird.
When it wouldn’t give, he decided to attack it from the other end, pulling out the speedometer and yanking it from there. It was brutal, vicious and careless. I christened him the Butcher of Naples.
Not that his local customers would have cared less. Naples was not kind to Vespas. Every scooter I’d seen was battered and scratched. But to me, each tug was like a knife being plunged in my heart.
Amazingly, Marcello escaped with a small scratch near the speedometer.
And I only got charged €5, parts and labour included.