Small Trucks in Italy (Otherwise known as “APES”)

I finally found out the name of those small three-wheeled trucks so often used in Italy. It is called an “ape,” and pronounced “ah-peh.” I only learned of this through reading a wonderful book about Italy called Stolen Figs by Mark Rotella. It was recommended to me by another Italian-American who is also passionate about Italy.

Tiny pickup truck in Italy (APE)

Also coincidentally I happened to read about it on another blog, Bagni di Lucca and Beyond, where the author was explaining that the ape was needed to transport items up the narrow streets and hills in a small village.

Mobile fruit and vegetable stand in Lecce

These vehicles do come in handy in these villages with steep narrow streets, where a normal size car could never maneuver. They are also great for parking in tight spaces. I have had some questions about photos I have posted of these “apes,” asking if they are glorified golf carts.

They are actually made by the company Piaggio, who manufactures the famous Vespa scooter as well as other vehicles. In fact the original model dates back to 1947 and was basically a Vespa with two wheels added to the rear.

Florist in a truck in Rome

Although I believe this photo is of a regular truck and not an APE, I have seen these APES used as portable roadside market stalls, where vegetables, flowers and all other types of goods are loaded onto the back. Originally made for one passenger, there is a second seat but it is a tight fit. I do like seeing these little vehicles around in Italy.

About Margie Miklas

An award-winning author, Margie Miklas writes medical thrillers and travel memoirs about Italy, a place which has captured her passion for travel. She is also the creator and owner of the travel blog, Margie in Italy, and a contributing writer for an Italian-American newspaper. A retired critical-care nurse, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her three cats. Her favorite place is the beach, and she likes learning new computer skills, when she is not writing. A member of the Florida Writers Association, Margie makes her home in Florida.
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14 Responses to Small Trucks in Italy (Otherwise known as “APES”)

  1. Debra Kolkka says:

    There was a wedding last week in Bagni di Lucca last week where the bride and bridesmaid arrived in an ape. I guess you know it means bee, because of the sound they make. Vespa means wasp.


  2. Yes Debra, thanks to your blog I learned it means “bee.” A wedding in an ape..Wow – only in Italy!


  3. We saw apes everywhere in Italy and fell in love with them but only got one photo in the narrow back streets of Assisi, they remind me of the 3 wheeled car in the Mr Bean television show.


  4. I love Apes. In Puglia, I saw a bright orange one that would drive from house to house through the tiny mazes of a small town delivering fresh produce. Beats food delivery in the US 😉


  5. Change says:

    I wonder if they are legal for the streets of Washington, DC? I would love one for America!!!


  6. I love pieces such as this. It was engaging and informational. As well, it spurred me to ponder how our geophysical landscapes (both built and natural) influence how we shape the tools used in our lives–variants of which may be found in many other places, each bowing to the specific needs and cultural ideas of a population–such as the vehicles we employ.


  7. Pingback: Transportation in Italy | margieinitaly

  8. I like your blog, it has interesting articles, Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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