Parli Italiano? - Part II


Sometimes words just aren’t enough. This is particularly true when it comes to the Italian language. As well as having a very rich language full of wonderful descriptive expressions and idioms (as you can see here), Italians also have countless hand gestures to reinforce what they are saying. In fact, Bruno Munari wrote a book in 1958 entitled ‘Supplemento al dizionario italiano,’ or ‘Supplement to the Italian dictionary’, which can further your knowledge of the Italian language. We have teamed up with our favorite illustrator Rob Wilson to explain a few of our favorites and get you started. After all, actions speak louder than words.


"What do you want?"

The tips of the fingers are brought sharply together to form an upward-shaping cone.  The hand can either be motionless or can be shaken up and down violently, depending on the degree of impatience. Seen often in Naples or in bumper-to-bumper traffic.



Italians often feign anger with this gesture of biting down on a fist.  You don’t have to bite hard, the mere gesture is sufficient.



Italians use this gesture in the hope of attaining the unattainable. Typically seen used by soccer players, with the added drama of dropping to their knees.

Illustrations by Rob Wilson

Parli Italiano?THE ODP TEAM