The Colosseum

Rick Steves Gives His Best Advice For Talking With Italian Locals

By Jenna Busch


While Italians have a very animated communication style, often using gestures with their hands and arms, there is one type of communication in Italy that tops it all.
For travel pro Rick Steves, this is the "passeggiata." It's an early evening event where people walk along the local streets, showing off, flirting, or just enjoying the sights.
Steves suggests this is "one of the best ways to observe Italians communicating — and to communicate with them." He offers some tips for joining in the promenade.
If you do join the passeggiata, dress the part: avoid wearing touristy shorts and socks with sandals. The passeggiata is the spot to be seen, so enjoy dressing up for the evening.
If the flirting makes you uncomfortable, say phrases like "No, grazie," which means "no, thank you." If it goes too far, the word for "help" is "aiuto."
There are also several hand gestures to be aware of, such as the "cheek screw," or twisting a finger on your cheek, which means "'cute' or 'delicious.'"