Chi Vespa Morde la Mela (LS-IT-310)

“Chi vespa morde la mela” is a didactic scenario on gender equality in Italy and in Europe. The main idea is to investigate the gender gap in Italy and other European Countries.

This multidisciplinary scenario is suitable for students aged between 13-14 years. The scenario takes the name from a famous Italian advertising campaign, the literal translation (who vespa bites the apple) has no sense, in fact in English was used another slogan (your second car could be not a car).

The first Vespa ad

In the years between the 1950s and 1960s, the Italian and European economy is growing, mobility is one of the problems to be solved urgently to restart the economy after the Second World War. While roads are being rebuilt, connections are being restored, and men and women ride bicycles, Piaggio, a famous Italian motor vehicle manufacturer, creates a low-cost, consumer-friendly scooter called Vespa targets young people and women, to whom it reserves the advertising campaigns. The first billboard in 1946 portrays a girl riding the Vespa, in-country where they have just voted for the first time, it is a revolutionary message. With the Vespa the women began to leave the house, it was not an easy battle: stereotypes, prejudices, harsh criticisms hit the girls who drove or accepted a ride, despite sitting crosswise on the rear seat.

Women and Vespa: a long ride towards gender equality

This learning scenario begins with reading photos of women riding the Vespa between the 50s and 60s, in different countries of Europe, to find out what gender equality is and at what point in Europe today, what progress has been made and what changes are to be built.

Women on Vespa, today as yesterday
Picture on the right: photo taken by the authors of the blog post
Picture on the left: Girl on a Vespa, Laura Toni, Promoter Digital Gallery (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Students are divided into groups and organize their research based on the following stimulus questions:

  1. How are the women represented in the photos?
  2.  Do you remember the historical and cultural context of Italy and Europe? How does the representation of women fit into that context?
  3.  What were the stereotypes, the prejudices towards the girls and women who drove the Vespa or the car?. What are the disparities?
  4. How does the female condition change in the years taken into consideration?

The students work in groups, research, select materials, identify stereotypes, prejudices and the real female conditions in the context examined.

Then, they played with the Index Game! What does your life look like? to explore the gender gap in different European countries. The materials collected were used to design materials for a debate in class.
The final outcome of the activity will be presented by students during a debate olympiad that will be held in July.

Would you like to know more about this learning scenario? You can download it below:

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CC BY-NC 3.0: Thea featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana Collections and has been provided by

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