fbpx Membus Italia – Portofino, Firenze, Roma | The Memrise Blog

Membus Italia – Portofino, Firenze, Roma

By Memrise Blog

Our new team members arrived in Portofino to a BBQ of polpo on a little hillside overlooking the Membus, the perfect start to our Italian adventure. We welcomed Davide, a Roman who designs t shirts displaying iconic Italian gestures, lovely polyglot Alessia from Milan, and Carolina, Neapolitan filmmaker, recently returned from designing puppet shows in Latvia.

portofino driving

The next day was spent filming near the sparkling waters of Portofino, and as expected, the Italian’s proved to be naturals at performing for our video dictionary, happy to be filmed regardless of being accosted by our team mid tanning session.

Diana Italy.1.

We headed back to the campsite for a relaxing evening only to return from our showers to find a very alarming fire on the lower deck of the bus, which appeared to be consuming most of our electrical items. Luckily we had damp towels aplenty and put it out before it made it to our large canister of back-up fuel. Most of the electrics were safe but Miranda looked like she might cry when she found the wires to our newly repaired wifi box had melted.

However we weren’t going to let fire stop the Membus and set off for Firenze the next day, excited to experience the narrow streets, beautiful Duomo and famous Ponte Vecchio of the iconic city. When we managed to catch a local from the crowds of tourists, the city created the perfect romantic backdrop to our videos.

Firenze wine

The first evening we headed to the Piazza Santo Spirito for a traditional Campari spritz, and to welcome Matilde from Tuscany, a linguist we’ve kidnapped from the Memrise office and who’s working on creating the perfect Italian phrases for you to learn. The non Italian members of the team were amazed by the concept of an aperitivo and managed to get a remarkable amount of food piled onto their tiny plates.

Florence also brought us two sweltering (ie exceedingly hot and sweaty) trips to the mechanics with most of the team covered in oil after trying to investigate the problem themselves. Despite the heat, and the unusual vehicle we’d presented them with, the mechanics were immediately caught up in the joy of the Membus and appeared to have a lot of fun fixing our broken gear box.


So after a few mechanical hiccups, lots of beautiful videos, copious gelato and walks along the Arno river, the team were ready for Rome, which happens to mark the half way point of our journey through Europe.

In the capital we found many expressive Italians ready to be filmed in front of the impressive Colosseum, epic Pantheon and newly cleaned Trevi fountain.

Rome was also where the big highlight of our Italian tour was due to take place – our driver’s dream of rollerskating up the iconic Aracoeli steps. Renato jumped up all 124 marble steps and, to our alarm, also decided to come back down again. He made it to the bottom effortlessly and was presented with a glass of coca-cola, which he insisted on drinking while standing on his head. The crowd whooped and cheered and we all felt very proud of this extraordinary Italian man, who has become our prized Membus captain, chef and stunt man.

Renato vid dic

This is where we also decided to spice up the content of our video dictionary, by asking Italians to make up phrases with words we are giving them. This way, we want to provide you different ways of using these words in context, so you can learn even more natural phrases used by true locals. Soon available on your favourite app!

Editable map updated (1)


Polpo – Octopus

Ponte Vecchio – Famous Florence landmark which is an old bridge with many jewellery boutiques

Piazza Santo Spirito – a lovely square in Florence the Membus team recommend to anyone visiting!

Aperitivo – a pre-dinner drink, often served with a free buffet included in the price of the drink