Top 10 Italian Hand Gestures You Need to Use
Italians and their passionate, expressive way of communicating with each other are famous worldwide. If you’ve ever watched an Italian movie or talked to a native speaker, you may have noticed how their hands are never still, and this is because their body language is essential for making a point and communicating their emotions. As such, learning Italian hand gestures is a requirement if you ever want to truly become fluent in the language or get the most out of your conversations with Italian speakers.
So, allow us to be of help. In this article, we explore the top 10 Italian hand gestures, what they mean and how to make the gesture yourself.
1. The Finger Purse
Many Italians are passionate about football. If you ever criticize Juventus, for example, you might get the finger purse as a response, which means “What do you mean? Are you crazy?”. This is one of the must-know Italian hand gestures to provoke your rivals!
How to do it: put your fingers together, with the tips touching each other pointing towards the ceiling and move the hand up and down by the wrist.
2. The Prayer
Do you need to ask for a favor? Did you forget your wallet and now you can’t pay for your delicious ristretto at the coffee shop? Ask your friends to lend you some cash while you make the prayer gesture!
How to do it: Extend your fingers and put your palms together, as if you were praying. Rock your hands for added effect.
3. The Finger Kiss
Invite your friends over and prepare some delicious pasta! A la carbonara, salsa bolognesa or al pesto, the varieties you can prepare are endless. If the dish was good, you might be rewarded with an “eccellente” and a finger kiss gesture.
How to do it: Bring all your fingertips together on one hand and bring the hand to your mouth as if you were to kiss it.
4. Temple Point
You have a friend who was called by the bank and asked about his account login details. He was about to tell the clerk everything until you tell him to stop because it is clearly a scam. Accompany your words with a temple gesture like a true Italian.
How to do it: This is one of the easiest Italian hand gestures. Just put your index finger next to your temple and tap it gently.
5. Eyelid Pull
You are in Rome and you tell your friends you would like to visit Torbellamonaca’s neighborhood. Knowing it’s not a very safe place to go to at night, they will probably take you to take care of yourself while doing the eyelid pull.
How to do it: Use your index finger to pull your lower eyelid down, exposing your eyeball a bit.
6. Finger Cross
Your girlfriend comes home and asks you where is the chicken you were supposed to buy for dinner. Suddenly, you realize you completely forgot about it but don’t want her to get upset. This is a great occasion to try out the finger cross gesture while swearing that the cat ate the chicken and it wasn’t your fault!
How to do it: Form an “x” in front of your mouth with your index fingers. This gesture is so widespread, you can do it to make a promise without saying a word.
7. Let’s get out of here
You’re at a bar and the music they are playing is old and boring. Make this gesture to your friends and show them you want to get out of there and fast!
How to do it: Flatten your fingers and lift your thumb. Then, move your hand up and down quickly, several times.
8. Go to Hell
Paragliding over Castelluccio is a very popular extreme sport in Italy. If your friends invite you over and you say no, they may start mocking you and telling you are a coward and a boring person. No matter how much you want to tell them to shut up, avoid using the “go to hell” hand gesture, as it’s not very polite.
How to do it: Move your hand towards the back of your head on one of your sides.
9. You’re so stubborn
You are in Rome and would like to get to Vatican city as fas as possible, as you don’t have a lot of time to visit the Sistine Chapel. Your friends tell you the best way to get there is using the metro, but you read on the Internet that the fastest manner is by bus and you insist. Don’t be surprised if your friend ends up saying you are very stubborn while doing this hand gesture!
How to do it: Make a fist with one of our hands and hit your other (extended) hand repeatedly.
10. I don’t care
Your friend has broken up with his girlfriend for the 7th time and he’s telling you all about it. You have heard this story a million times before and you don’t want to go through this again, but don’t fall into the temptation of using the “I don’t care” hand gesture. It’s just rude!
How to do it: Put the fingers of one of your hands beneath your chin and flick them.
Few conversations in Italy are complete without Italian hand gestures, so it makes sense to learn them if you want to become fluent in this beautiful language. Don’t worry if you don’t master all these gestures at once at the beginning. Practice makes perfect, after all!
And while you are at it, read our blog post on the top 10 hand gestures and how they are used across different cultures to truly master the art of non-verbal communication!