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Learning More Italian Gestures with Bruno Munari


Learning Italian gestures with Bruno Munari is fun! Its supplement to the Italian Dictionary is one of the smartest books to get to know Neapolitan gestures instantly.

Munari got the idea for his book about Italian gestures from the lively gestures of Neapolitans, a theatrical People who definitely shaped Italian gestures as well.

“The Fine art of Gestures”, published in 1963, is a collection of images, instructions, and information about the most common and famous gestures of Italians. Here we propose a selection of the ones that get stuck in your mind immediately!


Learning more Neapolitan gestures with Bruno Munari

  • Che vuoi?
    (lit. What do you expect?)





The tips of all fingers of one hand are brought sharply together to form an upward-pointing cone. The hand can either be held motionless or be shaken more or less violently up and down, according to the degree of impatience expressed. Very common in Naples.


  • Fumare
    (lit. Have you a cigarette?)





The index and middle fingers are extended as though holding an invisible cigarette. For greater emphasis, the fingers may be raised to the lips.


  • Corna
    (lit. Horns)





A protective gesture to ward off a curse or the evil eye. The index and little fingers of the hand jab downwards, as though to ban the evil into the earth.


  • Un momento
    (lit. Just a minute!)





This gesture, with the raised hand half palm-forward at eye-level, calls for attention in order to add an explanation or raise an objection.


  • Bere
    (lit. A drink)





The index, middle, ring, and little finger are all curved to the shape of a glass, while the thumb, raised to the mouth, suggests the flow of liquid.


Source: Speak Italian. The fine Art of The Gesture: A Supplement to the Italian Dictionary (1963) by Bruno Munari.


Would you like to learn more about gestures with Bruno Munari? Take a look at Learning Italian Gestures with Bruno Munari


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