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.
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.
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.
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 Originally made for one passenger, there is a second seat but it is a tight fit.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.