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The Membus in Italy: Part II

By Memrise Blog


The Membus is continuing in its mission to record videos of native Europeans. Meanwhile, the Memrise team back in HQ are working hard to incorporate all these videos into a brand new “Meet the natives” mode. You can already enjoy the videos from our French and Spanish parts of the journey on the app! For a quick recap of what the project is all about, check out our site here.

Read on to find out how we finished collecting the videos for the Italian chapter of our dictionary….

There was just time for a switch over of the Membus’s human cargo in Rome before heading to our next destinations. We welcomed two new filmmakers – Klamer, who’d joined the tour in Spain and couldn’t resist coming back for more, and Julia, a Canadian living in Bologna who makes award-winning films in her spare time. We also greeted our new assistants – Alfio, economist and pizzaiolo from Bergamo, and Yula, happy Venetian linguist.


When Matilde suggested a detour to her native Tuscan village of Cetona, we agreed it would be a great opportunity to film a different side of Italy. On arrival, we parked up in the nearest field and were welcomed to a delicious garden lunch with Matilde’s lovely parents, who seemed completely at ease playing host to a large double decker bus and its 8 inhabitants, singing Italian ballads over a glass of digestivo. 

Thanks to the people of Cetona’s enthusiasm for our project, we were really able to capture local village life in our video dictionary, from pensioners gossiping in the central square to local business owners standing proudly outside their shops.

After this ideal rural break, the team were re-charged and ready for Bologna!

Julia was the perfect Bologna hostess. Despite only having lived there for a few months, it seemed that wherever she went there were people clamouring to offer us free drinks, find us large tables in busy restaurants and, of course, be stars in our videos! We would also like to thank Hyperting, cool Italian start-up who joyfully acted for our video dictionary.


We sampled as much tagliatelle al ragu as we could during our 2 days in Italy’s gastronomic capital, and explored the medieval city’s arched colonnades and leaning towers. Our last night was spent under the stars in the huge open air cinema set up in the main square.

It was then time for our last stop – Venezia! The enchanting lagoon city didn’t disappoint, and with Yula to guide us through the labyrinthine streets, we were able to track down locals (despite being in a city where tourists can outnumber locals 2 to 1).


Venice was also where Google decided to film us for a video about cool startups. And we certainly fit the profile! It was the ideal setting for them to shoot the team at work, what with the gondolier we convinced (forced?) to participate, and the amazing backgrounds of this magic city.

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And so, 1600km travelled, 1200 locals met and 5000 videos of beautiful Italian language captured (as well as all the hand gestures), it was time for the team to say goodbye to amazing Italy. You will soon be able to learn directly from Italian native speakers!

Enjoy more pasta pictures on our Instagram 🙂

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