Another surprise was awaiting us in Italian class last week. We turned up only to be ushered into a large room with all the other students. It was time for our lesson on gestures. These form a huge part of Italian culture. It may sound cliché but people actually use them more than you think, and they have a whole host of different meanings!
Our teachers, Massimo and Susanna, demonstrated this by putting on a little performance. They pretended to be stood on opposite sides of a road, whilst a marching band went down the middle. Somehow Massimo asked Susanna if she wanted to get food, and she responded. This was done in complete silence. After this, Massimo took us through gestures in the media. He showed us a clip from the film Cinema Paradiso, where two characters have a similar exchange only using gestures. It was pretty impressive.
We all sat there watching, slightly confused I must admit, then it was our turn. I’d try to explain what the actions look like, but a lot of them are so similar I would make a pigs ear of it. If you want to research them a bit more, there’s a great video where some rather attractive Armani models demonstrate common gestures. It’ll probably be on YouTube. Most of us ended up giggling and resorting to words, but it was interesting to learn that such small actions carry so much meaning. If you find yourself in Italy, pay attention and see if you can spot any.