Move like an Italian! 6 more Italian Gestures Decoded

As you might know, in Part I of this blog post we went through a few of the different aspects of Italian non-verbal communication. And you yourself are probably already using much of these gestures, whether you notice it or not! are you holding up your thumb when you agree with something, or placing the index finger next to your lips when asking for silence? There you go! All of these gestures can be translated into non-verbal Italian communication.

A part of Select Italy’s Team already showed you the most used Italian gestures, but I’m sure you’re all looking forward to learning some new gestures in order not to leave for your Italian vacation unprepared. This part is going to be a little bit tough. You are all aware of the Italian ardent spirit, with this blog post we want to present all the expressions Italians used when they are angry, nervous, edgy and unconcerned. So scroll down and have fun with the following gestures performed by the Select Italy team:

7. Sei pazzo! / You are crazy!


Beth showing “Sei pazzo!”

This gesture is usually done when you are approched by a behavior, an idea, or a gesture  that is not considered “ordinary” by your standards All you have to do here is to point your index at the temple side and keep on turning left and right and at the same time saying “Tu sei pazzo,” or you are crazy!

It has the same meaning as the circular move that Americans do next to the ears. Beth, our Sales Manager has got this Italian gesture down!

8. Ma che stai dicendo? / What are you talking about?


“Ma che stai dicendo?” explained by Maria

When Italians don’t agree with what the other person is talking about, they don’t always react in a diplomatic way, and I think it’s safe to say this is because Italians sometimes are pretty direct. If they don’t agree with you, you’ll have no doubt, as they tell you right away: “Ma che stai dicendo?” or “What are you talking about?” All you need to do here, is to join your hands and wave them, the stronger the better, up and down!Maria, our Director for Wedding and Honeymoon Services, clearly does not agree with the person she’s speaking with.

9. Occhio! / Watch out!


“Occhio”, Michealeanne is giving you fair warning!

This is a clear indication to watch out! “Fai attenzione” or colloquially, “Occhio,” is the Italian phrase for it, but it can also mean, “We have understood each other” or “ci siamo capiti” to finish a conversation upon which the two parties earlier agreed.

How can you do this one perfectly? Set your index finger under your lower eyelid and draw it slightly downward, as Michealanne, our Senior Sales Consultant is demonstrating for you.

10. Mannaggia!


Paige performing “Mannaggia”…

This gesture is made by someone who is surely not happy. Mannaggia designs a kind of “dammit” in a “polite” way. The word derives from the South of Italy and descend from “male ne abbia,” essentially, “may you be damned.”

Its literary background comes from Malannaggia, “Malannaggia l’anima tua” which you will find in the Novels written by the realist Sicilian author Giovanni Verga.

Even if she’s American, it seems our Chicago Office intern Paige had some Italian ancestors. Look how you should do a real “Mannaggia“.

11. Vai a quel paese / Up yours


…and Alison’s answer

Seem our Business Developer Alison is answering back to Paige’s Mannaggia.

This is a really strong gesture that one might use if upset and “done” with the other person. Slightly synonymous to the English “up yours,”  sometimes this gesticulation follows an undesired request you don’t want to fulfill. It’s pretty polite, we advise you to use it with jokingly with friends or not at all!

12. Non m’importa / I don’t care…


Justin is in a “non m’importa” mood

Pay attention, because this gesture is not that common. Have you already experienced the awkward moment in which one of your friend is telling you something that you absolutely don’t care about? The polite and diplomatic way would be to start nodding your head and insert the right “You are right” or “I agree” at the proper time. Well, Italians are sometimes not that prudent. So, when you want to express your absolute indifference all you need to do is to flex your arm at the elbow, palm and fingers facing your body and then slowly run the your fingers from the neck till the chin, again and again. Our Operation and Client Services Manager, Justin, is simply answering back to the previous Alison’s “Vai a quel paese” – he is completely indifferent to it!

Do want to become a pro at Italian gestures? Stay tuned next week for more fun gestures, including a completely new one from our General Manager, Paul.

Which is your favorite gesture? Let us know!



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