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The Cagli Media Project
Institute for Education
in International Media
Andrew Ciofalo, Director

Story by Melanie M. Edwards

In America, turning 14 is nothing special. You might get an iPod, clothes or a bicycle for your birthday. But in Cagli, Italy, 14 marks an important rite of passage – that’s when most teens receive their first motorino, also known as freedom on two wheels.

Owning a motor scooter that can travel up to 45 kilometers per hour is a life-changing experience for many teens. No longer do they have to rely on parents, public transportation or their own two feet. With a motorino accelerator in his or her grasp, a teen can just rev up his two-wheeled machine and take off.

Lucia Felici is a 14-year-old resident of Old Cagli who has yet to receive her freedom. She recently had a birthday and is expecting her first motorino within the next couple of weeks from her parents.

Getting a motorino is a rite of passage for many Italian youths. Many feel a sense of freedom as they grip their motorino handles and kick the bike into gear.

Like other girls, Lucia plans to ride fast and let her hair blow in the wind, at least the part that sticks out from under the mandatory helmet. The bike that Lucia’s parents have chosen for her is a Phantom.

Andreina Bartoli, 14, says that like many girls, she chose the Booster “because it is the most feminine-looking one.”

While many teens receive new motorbikes as presents from parents, others buy used ones from friends or family members.

Maffia Palazzetti and Riccardo Vernarecci, both 14, purchased their first motorini from their older bothers. They do not mind riding hand- me-downs; they’re just happy to have wheels.

On a nice early summer night in Cagli, it’s common to hear the loud buzzing sound of motorini in the distance and see teens joy-riding as a group. Andreina described summer riding as “breezier” and more fun. Teens like Lucia who do not have their own bikes do not miss out on the action either; they typically ride on the back of a friend’s bike.

During the school year, motorini give many teens an alternative to riding the bus to and from school. For many years that is how Andreina and Maffia have traveled to school, since they live outside of Cagli.

The laws throughout Italy require that the driver of a motorino be at least 14 and wear a helmet. Drivers under the age of 18 may not drive a bike that exceeds speeds of 45 kilometers per hour. To drive a bigger, faster moto with an engine of up to 150 cubic centimeters, drivers must be 18 or older and have a full-fledged license.

Even with all the joy-riding and racing around, the price of driving a motorino is affordable for most teen drivers. Around Cagli the average price for diesel gas is 1.34 euros a liter, which is equivalent to approximately 6.77 dollars a gallon. An average size car has a 50-liter tank and costs the equivalent of some 90 dollars to fill.

On the other hand, motorini only hold 4 to 5 liters, costing an average of 5 to 6 euro to fill. Motorini with a full tank can drive 400 to 500 kilometers, or up to 310 miles.

Moto Baleani is the biggest used motorino dealer in the Cagli area and sells most motorini for between 2,000 and 3,000 euro. These relevantly low prices and cheap gas costs make motorino riding an affordable means of transport and pastime for the teens in Cagli.

Even though Lucia has yet to own a motorino, she is eagerly waiting for the moment she will have her own freedom on two wheels.

Video by Tami Dixon
Photos by Kristen Conroy
Web Design by Kathryn Gregory