Home & Design August 13, 2008

Pedal to the Metal

La Dolce Vita Scooter Club

There’s a new club in town that will make you say, “che bella!”

As Lisa Jenner tells it, La Dolce Vita Scooter Club began with a nostalgic trip to a motorcycle show with her husband, Peter, an expert motorcycle mechanic.

Jenner had never lost her childlike delight in things that move out, and move out fast, but she figured she’d long graduated from the riding of scooters when she left Key West years ago to become a Pilates instructor.

But when she and her former freedom cycle crossed paths again at the bike show, she was so smitten she bought one. Not just any one, but a vintage, green, 200cc Vespa—the two-wheeler that thousands of Europeans have chosen to navigate every via, calle and rue since the end of World War II.

Back in the saddle of her old friend, Jenner felt right at home, but she also felt a bit alone. She wanted company as she scooted through the Valley’s streets, and decided that the scooter’s effortless handling would be the spark to ignite other women’s interest in riding.

“At first, I thought no one would come,” recalls Jenner, but she was wrong. “I wanted to encourage more women to get on the road, but on something a little less intimidating than a motorcycle,” she says. In short order there was a gathering of a dozen women to ride with her.

As it turns out, uncomplicated and unproblematic were two of the characteristics industrial designers Corradino D’Ascanio and Enrico Piaggio were striving for when they created the Vespa. Designed as an affordable, maneuverable means of postwar transportation, the Vespa quickly became the vehicle of a lifestyle, and was hailed as a masterpiece of Italian design.

With its elegant lines and still somewhat affordable price (anywhere between $4,200 and $5,200, depending on the model), Vespas can smartly carry one or two people, groceries, and a yoga mat, while still boasting many comforts of motoring—a cushy seat, sturdy and protective fenders, and easy-reach handlebars.

Anyone who takes a spin on a scooter knows that one of the most important qualities is the fun factor. With that in mind, Jenner’s friends, Stephanie and Cecilia Giacobbi, dubbed the scooter club La Dolce Vita, or “the good life.” Cecilia spends part of her time living in Italy, Jenner said, so she had to know.

Meanwhile, the scooter riders are enjoying that good life: “We have such a good time,” says Jenner. Weather permitting,“we meet every Sunday around 10 a.m. and have coffee.”

Once warmed up and ready to ride, the group of up to 14 women take off on their scooters to tour. Their rides typically take them along Broadford Road, Buttercup, and around Bellevue. Occasionally, they’ll meet after work for an early evening ride.

Designed more for touring than speed, most scooters go an average of 50 mph, with Vespas reaching speeds of up to 70 mph.
Although no particular type of scooter is required to ride in the club, safety is. This is why Jenner organized a safety class last season so club members could get their licenses.

“One mustn’t sacrifice safety for chic,” she says.

“Many people feel that a scooter is not as dangerous as a motorcycle, but whether you are going 20 mph on a motorcycle or 20 mph on a scooter, you are going to feel it when you crash. That’s why I always remind everyone that helmets are a must and so are closed-toe shoes. No flip-flops!”

Viva la dolce vita!
To inquire about joining La Dolce Vita Scooter Club, call Lisa Jenner at 208.720.7045.

For this issue, Kerry Bozza-George, Ed.D., focuses on several topics that relate to following your life’s passion and education. With her doctorate in health education from Columbia University, Kerry spends her time doing what she loves to do best: working with kids, writing health education curricula, teaching classes, and hiking and biking with her husband Mark and two dogs. 

This article appears in the Summer 2006 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.