The Marcello demographic
When the Rally 200 was released in the early 70s, it was regarded as the hot rod of Vespas.
It had the largest engine of any Vespa produced to that point. It was equipped with electronic ignition. And it was tuned to be a worthy successor to the GS150.
But what really set the Rally apart were the sporty white stripe decals on the sides.
Ask any boy racer and they’ll tell you that stripes like that add at least 10% to any vehicle’s top speed.
Marcello’s sporty good looks certainly drew a different demographic as I made my way down through Sardinia and Sicily.
Whereas Sophia attracted little old ladies reminiscing about the romances of their youths, Marcello turned the heads of very young toddlers and lairy youth. Like this bunch of young guys in Caltagirone.
Caltagirone is a Baroque city in south-east Sicily that is famous for its ceramics.
The people here have been producing terracotta ten centuries before Christ was born.
Each of the civilisations that have conquered the town have left their mark. Look closely at the beautiful ceramics and you’ll see traces of Arab, Roman, Norman and Hohenstaufen culture.
I’d just returned from checking out the Staircase of Santa Maria Del Monte, a cool old set of steps where the risers are decorated with hand-painted tiles, no two of which are the same.
The lads wanted to know if Marcello belonged to me.
I nodded and they indicated for me to jump on my bike and follow them.
The kid wearing the sunglasses wanted me to meet his uncle who worked in a ceramic workshop nearby.
Uncle Joe was cool, he said. And he had a Rally 200 as well, a red one.
The lads wanted to see them parked side by side. And once they were, they insisted I took photos.
Uncle Joe emerged from the workshop and smiled.
He was indeed a cool dude, with a shaved head and a laid-back vibe.
Uncle Joe was impressed by Marcello’s stripes and immediately called out to his friend who worked in the tattoo parlour opposite.
The tattoo artist friend took photos of the stripes on his phone and told Joe he’d make up a set for him using a graphic program on his computer.
Joe poured me a cup of coffee from a battered Moka pot and gave me a tour of the workshop, before making his excuses and popping over to the tattoo parlour.
As I rode off he was already looking over his friend’s shoulder, pointing at the computer screen and making sure he got the graphics for the stripes just right.
Once they were on his Vespa, I’m sure the lads would think Uncle Joe was even cooler.