No matter how many times you watch ‘Benvenuti al Sud’, the Italian hand gestures can still be quite a difficult concept to grasp. For us natives, they become a natural reflex, they’re an expression of overwhelming emotions and a desperate desire to accurately express one’s feelings with ease. This guide will introduce you to the top five most common Italian hand gestures, preparing you for the ultimate experience abroad.
Confusion or Anger
How to: Form the equivalent of a crab pincer with your hand by making sure that the tip of your thumb touches all of your other fingertips. Keep your wrist loose, and move your hand up and down. Alternatively, you can move your entire arm instead for more emphasis.
Meaning: What in the world is this person saying (confusion), what you’re saying is nonsense/what on earth are you saying (anger)
How to: Use the same crab pincer from the previous hand gesture but this this time, instead of flicking the hand away from you, bring it in front of your mouth and turn your hand towards your mouth and back again.
Meaning: I am hungry/let’s go eat
How to: Use the same crab pincer hand gesture, moving your fingers a couple centimetres away from each other and then rejoin them with your thumb again. Repeat this action a couple times. Make sure your four fingers (pinky to index) are all touching throughout the process.
Meaning: You’re scared. This is usually used to tease friends in a lighthearted manner.
Example: You’re playing Monopoly and your friend is about to pass Mayfair and Park Lane Hotels.
How to: Use your index finger, place it against your cheek and turn it clockwise, then anticlockwise. Repeat this movement.
Meaning: This is delicious!
How to: Both hands open flat. Use the interior side of one hand and, using your wrists to move, continuously hit the open palm of your other hand. Make sure the open palm is facing away from you.
Meaning: Let’s leave.
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About the Author:
Sara is interning with the Umbra Institute through ISI Abroad as part of her gap year experience. A bilingual native of England and Italy, she’s traveled the globe seeking to learn diverse cultural and historical perspectives. She’ll be your guide this summer as you plan for your study experience in Perugia.