Planning a trip to Italy? How nice! La Bella Italia will not disappoint you.
You must have heard and read a lot of nice stuff about this country, like the special heart-melting music, the unique art, the fascinating architecture, the delicious food, the fast-talking people and the way they behave when they talk. Yes, I’m talking about their use of hand gestures.
Italians are known for using hand gestures in everyday conversations. And they have a particular movement for many terms and phrases. However, they do not do it just to be appealing to the people around them. It comes naturally to make a hand gesture when they want to express themselves. And even though we find most of them funny, you have to know that they’re serious about them.
So, in case you’re planning on visiting Italy or just being around Italians, you have to make sure that you learn at least some of the hand gestures they use so that you can understand their body language and watch out not to offend them by misusing some hand gestures. Read about the most used hand gestures that the Italians simply adore:
“Ma che vuoi?”
How to do it: Gather all your fingertips on each hand and shake your hands up and down.
Translation: What do you mean? What do you want?
If you’re saying something but the person you’re talking to doesn’t quite understand you, they will probably do this hand gesture to you, signifying that you should clarify what you’ve just said and explained what you want from them.
How to do it: Clasp your palms together while your fingers are extended and place them in front of your chest, in the position of praying. Translation: I beg you. Please, do me a favor.
Like the translation itself, this hand gesture means exactly that – to beg for something while speaking to a person, usually asking for a favor.
How to do it: Gather all your fingertips and bring them closer to your mouth, like you’re doing a finger kiss.
When you’re in Italy and you see a lovely Italian girl passing by, or you have tasted some delicious pasta, it’s always normal to make this hand gesture in the way of complimenting the things around you. It means that something is so good that it deserves a kiss.
“Che **** me ne frega!”
How to do it: Bend your arm at the elbow, expand your fingers and bring them under your chin. Slide your fingers smoothly in a direction from your neck to the tip of the chin.
Translation: I don’t give a ****!
When you’re pissed off, and you want to show the people around you that you don’t care what they’re saying and what’s happening to them, then you can use this hand gesture, and everyone will understand how you feel.
“Usa la testa!”
How to do it: Extend your index finger and put it on the temple of one side of your head.
Translation: Don’t be stupid! Use your head! Think!
If you’re talking to a person, and you hear that he/she has come up with a stupid idea or has done something silly, you can do this hand gesture to “politely” show that you think he/she is stupid and that he/she has to turn his/her brain ON and think about clearly it.
How to do it: Put the thumb and the index finger of one of your hands together and draw a straight line in the air.
If you feel like you want to compliment something that you perceive as amazing, but you don’t have the words for it – you simply do this gesture, and everything is said.
How to do it: Use your index finger to put it under your eye and gently pull your eyelid down.
Translation: Pay attention! Watch out!
This you might have seen in the movies and cartoons, but it doesn’t exist only there. Italians use it to warn you about something, alarming you that they’re constantly watching you so you can’t-do anything wrong to them.
How to do it: Expand only your index finger of one hand in front you and draw an imaginary circle in the air.
Translation: See you later
This hand gesture can be used when you want to tell someone goodbye and that you’re going to see him/her later or catch up some other time. It’ also very good to use when you see someone on the other side of the street, and you can’t tell him/her anything because of all the traffic, so you make this gesture as some message that you’re going to see each other soon.
“Ma va va”
How to do it: Extend both hands in front of you with your fingers extended, let one hand be stable and the other that’s hitting the upper hand.
Translation: Get lost! F**k off!
If you get into an argument with an Italian and you see him/her making this gesture, then you better go away because you don’t want any trouble.
“Me stai qui”
How to do it: Expand the fingers of one hand and hit (gently) your stomach with the hand.
Translation: I can’t stand you.
If you feel like you need to show someone that you don’t like him/her and you don’t care if they get offended or even if you do want to offend them on purpose, then you simply make this hand gesture and move on.
“Ma guarda questo”
How to do it: Simply extend your palm in front of you, in the line of your face, and that’s it.
Translation: Take a look at him/her
If you’re walking down the street with your friend and suddenly he/she spots someone weird on the street, he/she will use this gesture to point out the person that has attracted his/her attention.
You’ll be surprised that these are only one part of the hand gestures the Italians use every day. Unfortunately, the most offensive and embarrassing ones are not quite on the list, since it’s not interesting to read how they do them, but better see them in person. So, if you have the chance to visit Italy, remember to ask an Italian friend to show you the offensive gestures. You might be using them even if you’re not aware of it, which might result in you offending someone by accident and showing him/her what you didn’t intend to.