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Vespa New Orleans Celebrates Grand Reopening

The 'Big Easy' Welcomes Back the Legendary Italian Motor Scooter On July 15 In North America's Newest, Largest Vespa/Piaggio Showroom

Celebration Also Marks Vespa New Orleans' Fourth Anniversary

NEW ORLEANS, July 11 -- After months of hard work and planning, Vespa New Orleans, home of the world-famous Vespa(R) motor scooter, will celebrate its reopening starting at 10:00AM at its new Warehouse District address at 901 Julia Street. When Vespa New Orleans opens its doors in this brand new retail location, it will be one of North America's largest Vespa/Piaggio dealerships.

Starting at 10:00AM, Priestess Miriam Chimani of the VooDoo Spiritual Temple will bestow a special blessing for peace, prosperity, and good luck. Following the blessing, a ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil the new dealership will take place at 11:00AM. The day of festivities will continue with food, music and giveaways until 4:00PM.

The new store contains over 10,000 square feet of modern space designed in the classic but contemporary style that is the hallmark of the Vespa brand. The location will include covered street parking as well as a certified on- site service and parts division. The grand reopening also commemorates the fourth anniversary of Vespa New Orleans' when in first opened in the city on July 15, 2002.

As part of the reopening and anniversary celebration, Vespa New Orleans has partnered with the Art Council New Orleans' Louisiana Artworks Project to raffle off a one-of-a-kind piece of "drivable art." Visitors at the dealership can enter for a chance to win a unique, custom-designed Vespa GT scooter, hand-painted by local artisans Evelyn Menge and Darrin Butler. The drawing for the Vespa GT will take place during a special "Arts for Arts Sake" reception on October 7th, 2006 at Vespa New Orleans.

"The reopening of Vespa New Orleans is an important milestone in the resurgence of New Orleans' rich commercial and cultural environment," said Paolo Timoni, President and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas. "We are extremely proud to be a part of this redevelopment and are committed to continue our support of Vespa New Orleans as it builds to new heights," he said.

Vespa New Orleans temporarily closed following the onset of Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005. In response, owners Gayle and Stephen Materne established Vespa Baton Rouge in just over two months - opening on November 2, 2005, with strong support from the Piaggio Group, an extremely dedicated staff of employees and the local scootering community. The Baton Rouge dealership will remain open as a sister store to the reopened New Orleans flagship location.

The Vespa scooter was introduced in 1946 as a means of personal transportation and a symbol of freedom in post-war Europe. It has since become a worldwide symbol of Italian design, having sold more than 16 million units in five continents.

Vespa New Orleans is located at 901 Julia Street in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, LA. For more information on Vespa New Orleans and Vespa Baton Rouge, please visit

About The Piaggio Group:

Established in 1884 by Rinaldo Piaggio and based in Pontedera (Pisa, Italy), the Piaggio Group is one of the world's top manufacturers of two-wheel motor vehicles. With over 6,000 employees in 50 countries, the Piaggio Group has a consolidated leadership in the European 2-wheeler market, and a particularly strong presence in the scooter and 50cc vehicles segment, with 40 percent market share in Europe and 48 percent in Italy. Its production includes scooters, motorcycles and mopeds in the 50cc to over 1000 cc displacement range, marketed under the Piaggio, Vespa, Gilera, Derbi, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and Scarabeo brands. The Piaggio Group is controlled by Immsi S.p.A., an industrial and services holding listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, and is headed by Chairman Roberto Colaninno and Chief Executive Officer Rocco Sabelli.

Across its more than 120-year history, the company has been active in almost every area of transport including: naval fittings; the construction of locomotives and rolling stock; engines for the aeronautics sector; seaplanes; and civil and military aircraft. Since the introduction of the Vespa scooter in 1946, Piaggio has led the way in meeting the growing demand for personal mobility. A universally recognized symbol of Italian style, Vespa is an outstanding success story with more than 16 million scooters produced to date.

About Vespa New Orleans:

Inspired by a trip to Italy and the appeal of Vespa motor scooters, Gayle and Stephen Materne officially opened the doors of Vespa New Orleans in July 2002. The dealership offers Piaggio trained service technicians, and a full range of products and accessories are available. Ground was broken in April 2005 on phase 1 of a new store on Julia Street in downtown New Orleans. As a result of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Mid-City store in August 2005, the new New Orleans opening was delayed and a Baton Rouge store was opened in November 2005. Vespa New Orleans officially reopens in 2006 as one of North America's largest Vespa/Piaggio dealerships.