Graziella came in happy colors like cream and light blue.  The company even provided the buyer with a little tube of paint to retouch the fra because it would often scratch easily.  It had a chrome bell with a swirling “G” cast on it. I remember that sound actually, shrill yet cheerful.  It was a bell that, as a kid, you would love ringing, endlessly and annoyingly.

 

 

The Graziella | Vintage Italian Bicycle

 

The Graziella also came with an anti-theft system  set up with a lock built into the frame and a key (to tell the truth, the whole thing wasn’t very effective).  As one advertisment would boast, it was the only bike insured against theft by Lloyd Adriatico, a prominent Italian insurance company.

This italian bicycle took us for small trips around town or through the countryside.  When some Italians were able to afford a second house Graziella came with them; look at these people, kids, girls, ladies in wide brim hats lazily pedalling to and from the beach. Husbands with a big belly riding this tiny bicycle, trying to balance a beach umbrella on their shoulder with one hand, while holding the handlebars and a straw mat with the other.

 

An ad for the Graziella

 

In time, other cheaper types of bikes soon emerged.  Atala, Legnano, Olmo were some of the most competitive brands. So in 1971, Graziella underwent a facelift.  The size of the wheels increased and the frame was made even sturdier to accomodate people of bigger sizes. The company also provided the bike with a little tool kit that conveniently fit into the frame.  Genius. You felt like you really belonged to a Graziella movement. Other versions followed, among which the eccentric Graziella Flor, in line with the hippie influences of the time: it was decorated with floral designs and came with a free 45 record bizarrely but also appropriately titled “Io vado sul fiore…vieni anche tu.” (I’m going to the flower, come with me).

 

The Graziella Flor ad campaign

 

Graziella kept us company throughout the mid 60’s and 70’s. Then, as everything, its star began to lose its luster. It was more like a girl bike, yet it was heavy and didn’t have speed gears. Boys loved it though, as beet-red they would attempt to ride it up the hills or try out complicated moves like a wheelie or even a peel out. But something was missing.

 

graziella ad

Technical details of the Graziella

 

Then came ET riding off in a BMX and finally, the mountain bike.  Graziella was put aside and eventually it retired with dignity, like a lady who once, thanks to her undeniable charm and beauty, lived a glamorous life. Today though, it is experiencing a rebirth of sorts among collectors and it even has its own Facebook page. It will always remind us of our childhood, when 2 wheels became a status symbol of the new youth of that time, a bit naive, less sophisticated, yet for this reason maybe more optimistic and happy.

1