Navigate Your Way Through Italy with Hand Gestures

You don’t need to speak Italian to travel through Italy. Italian hand signals, an outgoing personality, and a genuine smile are everything you need. Before you know it, you’ll be able to conquer Il Bel Paese.

Still, before you go, you are better off learn to speak Italian. To guide you, though, you can use these Italian hand gestures.

Un momento!

“One moment, please” is the correct translation for this. You can do this by pointing your index finger upwards, which essentially looks like the number one. “May I speak, please?” is another message you can convey with this hand signal, though you will need to learn Italian then.

Ho fame

This translates to ” I am hungry”, a plea to your hosts to feed you. To send an obvious message, use the side of your flat hand to hit your stomach. But you will find yourself sick of pizza and pasta if you do not know Italian food words to understand Italian food. You’ll understand the difference between pollo and polipo if you learn Italian. Who knows what allergies these foods might bring to you?

Ehi tu, vieni qui

This is one hand signal you’ll do well to apply with caution. It can look sexually inviting or obnoxious as it means “Hey! Come here, you!” It’s made by a come hither signal also used by numerous Americans. When you want someone to come and assist you, you’re better off learning to say “Prego, potete aiutarli?”


This uses the universal gesture of pressing your index finger to your lips for “silence.” If you want to explain why you want quiet, however, you will have to learn Italian.


Put your hand on your head and look happy, and you have successfully conveyed that you have an idea. When you tell them about this idea, though, learning Italian will be useful.


This looks like the American gesture for “okay” – the thumb and index fingers making a circle. This is very useful if you can’t speak Italian and wish to compliment somebody.

Scusi, devo andare al bagno

Meaning “I must go to the bathroom”, this is a very important gesture. You will be directed to the closest rest room by putting on a pained expression and holding up your index and middle fingers. For the diarrhea-prone traveler, this is very handy indeed.

Indeed, Italian hand gestures are true poetry. To read Italian street signs and speak with the locals, though, learning Italian is still useful. Choose to have the best of both worlds, instead.

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