Do Italians really talk with their hands?


This has been a joke for who knows how long in the USA where people always say that when Italians talk, they use their hands a lot. I guess this is to better express emotion? It has become a running joke though and I had to ask if it was true or not. It just seems like a New York City stereotype.


I have heard this so many times that Italian’s talk with their hands and yes it is something that comes from the USA. I personally have never full on spoken to an Italian so I couldn’t say if they do use their hands a lot or not to talk but coming from someone who lives with an Italian they say it does happen a lot. Would be interesting to know who is right.


I do wonder where it came from but like I said, I think it is a reference for Italians in US cities and not so much Italians in Italy. I am going to make sure I debunk this mystery when my fiance and I go in the spring.


It’s more of an sane I hear then what I see. I don’t see this happening and hard to say if it’s true or not. And if so then why do they do it or they so used to doing it when they do talk


This video made by The New York Times explains it in only 2 minutes:


I’ve lived here for the past decade and I can confirm Italians wave their hands every single time they talk. And not only, they’re also able to understand each other from afar by simply using hand gestures.

At first I found it both weird and funny, but once you understand the meaning of some of their gestures, you apparently pick up the habit yourself! :smile:


Italians are definitely very extroverted people in general. Talking with their hands all the time is just a proof of that. They are usually trying to underline a point when using their hands.


I come from a country where it’s quite common to have body gestures when talking to others. That’s why the video doesn’t strike as strange. I agree that sometimes it’s necessary to explain or emphasize our words with other means.

I’m curious about the gestures to insult because I can avoid them if I ever visit Italy. What I find normal here can have a different meaning for others, after all.