Italian Language Blog

Gesture of the Day – 2 Posted by on Mar 4, 2010 in Culture, Italian Language

Continuing my theme of ‘body language’, here, for your entertainment, is another colorful and expressive Italian gesto (gesture):

‘Che Palle!’ (what balls!) An expression of annoyed boredom.

So, once you’ve done a few warm up exercises and loosened up those limbs we can begin:

1. Place both hands slightly in front of you at hip level, with your fingers open and palms facing upwards.

2. Curve the middle, ring, and little finger of each hand inwards until they touch your palm.

3. Imagine that you are holding an ‘egg’ in each hand using your thumbs and index fingers.

4. Rotating your hands from the wrist slowly shake your ‘eggs’ up and down with a bit of extra emphasis on the downward motion.


If you are really fed up about something, or extremely bored you can use a more emphatic version of this gesture and include a bit of movement from the elbows. This time imagine that you are holding two heavy ostrich ‘eggs’, and therefore your thumbs and fingers will be further apart.

Now I don’t want to be responsible for a bunch of unruly gesticulating foreigners arriving here in Italy, although I have to admit that watching a coupled of hundred hot tired tourists queuing outside the Uffizzi and making the ‘che palle!’ gesture could be highly entertaining! No, I am simply writing these blogs for your enlightenment.

So, when you have changed your order for the third time in that nice little trattoria down in the piazza and you happen to notice that the long suffering waiter with the weary smile seems to be shaking a couple of invisible ostrich eggs up and down somewhere below his waist as he plods back to the kitchen, you will understand exactly what he means!

Alla prossima

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  1. Marta:

    Thanks! I always laugh with my Italian friends as they move even more than we do here in Spain. it’s fantastic, so expressive 🙂

  2. Vince Mooney:

    Salve Serena:

    I don’t remember ever seeing that gesture when I lived in Italy. Maybe I didn’t annoy anyone. : )

    Wow! I didn’t even know you could change your order at an Italian trattoria!

    You have to be careful in Italy. I had a vender actually slap my hand as I tried the pick up some grapes at his outdoor fruit and vegetable stand. Evidently you don’t do that in Italy!


    • serena:

      @Vince Mooney Ciao Vince, yes when I go to my fruttivendolo they choose the produce for me, it’s not like the supermarket ‘fai da te’ mentality.
      They always pick out the nicest fruit and veg, and if it is a bit old (like yesterday’s bananas!) or bruised they either sell it to me very cheap, or give it to me free.
      If you had persisted to ‘fondle’ those grapes you would have probably seen a ‘che cavolo’ gesture!


  3. Cathy:

    The explanation was great! I love learning things here that I otherwise wouldn’t learn about! Thanks for an entertaining and very informative blog!

  4. Jeremy:

    Hilarious. I loved your link.

  5. Zahra:


    Thanks for this cool blog. I have added a link to your blog from my English blog. Actually, I am highly interested in Italian language and culture. I will keep visiting this terrific online place.



    • serena:

      @Zahra Grazie Zahara, e benvenuta al mio blog!

      Alla prossima, Serena

  6. William Auge:

    Salve Serena, grazie per la risata e per stai portando la cultura italiana alla vita. L’unica cosa che posso dire relativa al scoiattolo e’ “che palle!”

    A presto, William

  7. William Auge:

    Salve Serena, grazie per la risata e per stai portando la cultura italiana alla vita. L’unica cosa che posso dire relativa al scoiattolo e’ “che palle!’

    A presto, William

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