If you’ve seen The Sopranos or met someone from Bay Ridge you know Italians love to talk with their hands. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just a collection of randomized arm flapping and emphatic gestures! Italians have a whole vocabulary of hand movements to quickly (or quietly) convey what they mean.
Sergio Solazzo is a tour director for Nada’s, and recently appeared in a video where he runs through some of the most common hand signs you might see in the country, like how to say you have no money, think someone is attractive, or want someone to get lost. You know, standard stuff for a cautious tourist. A few of the signs are remarkably similar though, and a six inch difference in position changes “this food tastes great” to “you’re a crazy person.” Interestingly the sign for “watch out” resembles the akanbe face in Japan, which is considered childish and a bit rude.
It’s easy to slip up, so when in doubt leave the passionate gesticulating to the locals. Even if you’re seeing a metal show, think twice about throwing up the “devil horns” during a trip to Italy—you’re telling the band their wives cheat on them.