Live Like a Florentine: Italian Hand Gestures 101

We’ve all seen the famous meme for Italian hand gestures, but how often do Italians actually use that motion? Well, as a native Italian, I can tell you that the answer is A LOT! This brief guide will show you some of Italy’s most common hand gestures, preparing you for your experience abroad and making you a master of Italian meme interpretation.Italian Hand Gestures Meme

Confusion or Frustration

How to: Press your palms together and make sure all your fingers are touching. Hinge from the elbows to move your hands up and down. Do not move your wrists.

Alternative: create the equivalent of a crab pincer with your hand. Make sure that the tip of your thumb touches all your other fingertips. Keep your wrist loose, and move your hand up and down (or move your entire arm instead, for more emphasis).


  1. What on Earth is this person saying (confusion)
  2. You’re making no sense/what are you even saying (frustration)



A Long Time Ago (in a galaxy far far away…)

How to: with your open palm facing towards your ear, move your arm back and forth twice (hinging from the elbow). Make sure you do it more than once, or the gesture will be perceived negatively!

Example: Someone asks you when you first had Italian pizza.
Già da mo’! (Slang for: ages ago)


How to: using your index finger, point to you left and draw small circles away from your body.

Meanings: I’ll do this later

Example: Used in response to “When are you going to start your essay?”

Love for Food

How to: Use your index finger, place it against your cheek and twist. Repeat this movement.

Meaning: This is delicious!


Interested in learning more about communication in Italy? Take a look at our last blog and join us on a study abroad experience to Florence! We offer Italian classes for all language levels. Learn through a first hand experience, engage with the community and embrace Italian culture! Are you ready to travel?

Intern Teaches Italian Hand GesturesAbout the Author:
Sara is interning with ISI Florence through ISI Abroad as part of her gap year experience. As an aspiring English major and experienced traveler, she will be your guide this summer to help you plan for a semester in Florence, Italian style.