This quick guide to Neapolitan gestures is the way to comprehend what people mean to say when they move their hands without saying something! Italian and Neapolitan gestures are known all over the world because they are so theatrical. But, there are also many studies on our gestures. Just think that Italian architect Bruno Munari, who also taught in the USA, wrote a short dictionary of Italian gestures.
Even if gestures of Italian culture are a lot, here we propose just the essentials. Enjoy!
The most famous Neapolitan gestures
Oh my! / Maronna mia!
(In Italian: Madonna mia!)
You can imitate Neapolitans evoking the Mother of Jesus by covering your face with the hands. It must seem you don’t want to see what’s happening!
What to do you want? / Che ‘vvuo?
(In Italian: cosa vuoi?)
To emulate this intention through gesture, do it like the Italians! To ask someone what does he or she wants, you must group your finger altogether, pointing the entire hands up.
Shut up! / Statt’zitt!
(In Italian: Silenzio!)
It is the gesture used by Neapolitans to take the word. You can imitate it by pointing your finger near the mouth, as to close the one of the person you mean to shut up. It is one of the most famous Neapolitan gestures and you can gather it in so many historical movies shot in Napoli.
Aum aum / Hiddnely
(In Italian: di nascosto)
If you would like to say with your gesture that something happened hiddenly, you must make a circular movement with your hands with your fingertips down. Many people also fake saying something while moving the hand.
Uanm! / Wow!
(In Italian: Caspita!)
Rotate your hands from the outside to the inside to express your surprise for what someone’s said or did!