We’ve been learning bits of idiomatic Italian, both verbal and physical, from the people we’ve been meeting. For example, you know we say “break a leg” in English to mean “good luck”? Well, Italians have the same superstition that wishing someone well can jinx it, so they also say something negative to mean something positive. In Italian, though, they say:
In bocca al lupo
or “into the mouth of a wolf” (i.e., “I wish you to be eaten by a wolf”). The response is “Crepi!” or “May it die!”
A fun variant, apparently, is
In culo alla balena!
or “Into the ass of a whale!” The response to this is “speriamo che non caghi” or “Let’s hope it doesn’t shit”. Indeed, let’s.
Physical communication is as rich and interesting. Everybody knows “Italians talk with their hands”, but we’re getting a big kick out of the specifics. It’s not just wild gesturing and shaking of pinched fingers.
To begin with, let us review the Italian gesture for communicating “I am very hungry”. It is demonstrated here by our housemate Jen, and is accomplished by flattening one’s hand, placing it horizontal to the ground and bumping it quickly against the area just below the lowest rib.
Next, should you enjoy the meal you have just had, you may wish to indicate it by extending your forefinger horizontally and pressing directly into your cheek, as our own Michelle demonstrates.
However, if the meal is truly, truly stunning and you wish to exclaim greatly its wonder, you will wave your hand in slow circles to your side, as our friend Luigi demonstrates in the video below.
Luigi, may you end up in the ass of a whale!