Move like an Italian! 6 Italian Gestures Decoded

Italians have an innate enthusiasm for communicating and socializing. And sometimes this passion is so powerful that even words aren’t enough. In Italy gestures such as shrugging shoulders, wrinkling the nose or simply lifting an eyebrow usually tells more than a bunch of words.

The reality is that gestures are to Italian chats what mozzarella is for pizza. Indispensable.

Maybe this explains why every time a foreigner tries to speak Italian and wants to sound convincing, they randomly come up with some gestures watched in old Alberto Sordi movies or simply try to recall Julia Robert’s gesticulation in Eat Pray Love.
Do you want not to look like a tourist in your vacation around the Bel Paese?

The Select Italy Team can help you to learn how to use Italian body language and to sound, look and act like a real Italian.



1. Che cavolo…? / What the hell…?

Phil che cavolo

This is one of the most important Italian gestures. With this gesture your take you five-finger tips and put all of them together in a point, then  put your palm towards yourself and shake it up and down. Simple, right? You can use this hand gesture to say “What the … is going on?” or “What do you want?!” Look at how our Senior Accounting Coordinator, Phil, is doing it. He seems like a real Italian!

2. Eccellente! / Excellent!


How can you express an eccellente feeling?

Bring your fingers together and raise them up to your mouth and kiss them.

This gesture can be done in several occasions, after a good meal, when you see something particularly appealing, or when your friends behave in a certain way that you like. In this case you can say: “Ti meriti un bacio,” or “you deserve a kiss!” Our Sales Manager Beth, shows you how to do the perfect “Eccellente!”

3. Delizioso! – That food is delicious!


This is the typical gesture parents use to encourage children to eat. It’s simple and easy. You just need to corkscrew the index into the cheek. Try to use it to express your satisfaction with Italian delicacies. Martina, our Client Care Specialist, is fond with Italian food and due to her Italian-American heritage she knows exactly how to do the perfect cheek-corkscrew.

4. Il conto, per favore! – The bill, please!

Guly Il

Now that you have learned how to express your satisfaction with the Italian exquisiteness, you are ready to learn how to ask for the bill.

Italians use a very special gesture to do this, especially men. They basically mime as if they are writing something on an invisible paper, which is their left hand palm. During your vacation in Italy you will observe this kind of ritual while asking for the conto. Andrea, our Director of Digital Marketing from Florence, is for sure the best one to show you how to ask for the bill!

5. Ti prego – I beg you


This gesticulation stands for an imploring movement in order to get something (not necessarily important) that otherwise would be impossible to acquire. It is also used in a playful way to ask favors to friends, following the word “per favore”, repeated different ways: “Ti prego… per favore, per favore, per favoreee”. All you need to do is to join the hands at the chest level and make a begging look.

That’s me doing the “Ti prego,” I’m Marianna and I’m an Intern in the NYC Office.

6. Marameo


This is usually a childish gesture where the thumb touches the nose point while the other fingers wave rapidly, one after the other, keeping them open. To do Marameo means you are teasing someone and usually means “catch me if you can” or “you cannot do anything about that.” Arianna, our Social Media Assistant, now lives in NY, but we are sure she used to do “Marameo” when she was playing during her childhood in Rome. Here’s how to do it!

That’s all for today! Stay tuned for more gestures!

Do you want to learn other gestures? Come back next week for the next 6!



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