Death of a motorino

by Alexandra

Once upon a time, in a magical kingdom, a princess fell in love with a knight. She loved the knight and she loved his horse too. The knight went everywhere with his horse, which was old and a little slow. He’d had the horse for so many years that he loved it almost as if it were human. When the knight said “My love” or “How beautiful you are,” the princess often wasn’t sure if he was talking to her, or his beloved horse.

They travelled across the kingdom on horseback, to beautiful places the princess had never even heard of before. Whenever she was tired of walking, the knight would immediately help her to mount the horse, and they would gallop off into the night, all the way back to the palace.

They spent a blissful year together – the princess, the knight and his horse. The princess and the knight believed that the horse might somehow live forever, despite his old age. It didn’t matter if he was slow, or if he looked a little more tired and worn than the other horses. He was the knight’s horse – no other animal could compare.

Then, early one morning, the princess awoke and went for a walk in the palace gardens. Turning to the right, she caught a glimpse of what had once been the stables, and gasped. There was nothing left. She rushed towards the blackened ruins of the stables; what she saw was worse than anything she could have imagined. In the middle of the night, someone had set fire to the stables, and all that was left of the horses was their bones. Among the bones and the ashes were the remains of the knight’s horse, but there was so little left that she couldn’t tell one from another.

The princess wept.


The story is true, only the magical kingdom is Rome, the princess is me, the knight is Valeriano, and the horse is a motorino.


This is what I saw when I left the flat yesterday morning.


That’s where Valeriano’s motorino was parked last night, I thought to myself. But none of those can be his, because he left for work early this morning and I haven’t heard anything.

I called, just to be sure. Valeriano told me that one of the skeletal wrecks in the street was indeed his motorino. He had already filed a police report, and was at work with a rental motorino provided by his company. He probably said some other things too, which I didn’t fully understand, as I was distracted by the awful sight of the motorbikes – so much more awful now that I knew one of them was his beloved bike – and started to get tearful.

People are sympathetic and understanding if you cry over the death of a relative, or a pet. Maybe if it had been my motorino, instead of Valeriano’s, my reaction would have been more understandable. But no one expects you to be in mourning for your boyfriend’s motorino.

“It’s only a motorino,” Valeriano said, trying to calm me down. “It’s not as though it’s a person.”

A motorino is not a person, but Valeriano often talked about it as if it were, greeting it with the same joyous exclamations that he uses when he sees me. “Eccolo! Bello, bellissimo!” The only difference is the gender.

He’d had it for so long that it was a teenager in human years (and a pensioner in motorino years). It was sgangherato (rickety, run-down) and slow to start, spluttering for a minute or so before it finally whirred back to life, but Valeriano always had faith that it would start eventually. It always did, taking us wherever we needed to go – for work, for pleasure. Narrow back streets of Trastevere, snobby streets near Piazza di Spagna, high above the Vatican on Via Piccolomini, the ancient cobbles of the Appian Way, rising above the ruins of the Terme di Caracalla, the far reaches of the Prenestina…

So many of my memories over the past year – the first year of my relationship with Valeriano – involve the motorino, so I think it’s natural to mourn a bit. Valeriano’s even forbidden me from looking in the brown envelope that contains the charred remains of his targa (number plate), in case it sets me off again…

We think that it was probably arson – random vandalism, or the act of a pyromaniac – as similar attacks have happened in this part of Rome. I hope the criminal is caught, but I’m not optimistic. In the meantime, Valeriano – whose insurance doesn’t cover arson, apparently – has to buy a new motorino. Possibly a secondhand Vespa from his mechanic in Torpignattara.

As for the old one, all we’ve got is the targa and the memories.

Il motorino piu’ bello del mondo, riposa in pace

(Il piromane piu’ stronzo di Roma, mortacci tua)