Speak Italian by Bruno Murani

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Hi everyone! I am back again with another book review for you. I have dusted off my bookshelf and pulled another volume to tell you all about. Hopefully convincing you to add to your own collection (or wish list at least). As always, no star ratings here, just my honest thoughts about why I chose the book and why I find it so interesting.

This week I couldn’t resist choosing this particular language book. Italian will always have a special place in my heart as the language that helped me find my passion for languages and this little gift from my fiancèe is one of my favourites.

Speak Italian Front

Speak Italian

The Fine Art of the Gesture

When you are learning a new language there is always a mountain of information to absorb. New words, phrases, grammar, spelling, sounds… the list goes on. What a lot of people forget is that a language is a lot more than just scribbles on paper or having a technical understanding of the Passato prossimo; it is about communication. When you are talking to people there is a lot of slang, mistakes, body language and other cues that you need to be able to recognise to really blend into the culture and in conversation. In Italian this is especially the case with their hands.

Speak Italian Inside


It is a fairly well known fact that Italians like to use their hands when talking. Sometimes to emphasise and sometimes to replace the words entirely. Almost like a second language… they like to make it easy for us don’t they? I particularly love the funny videos about Italians doing everything with their hands in the classic “Che vuoi” shape.

Speak Italian - What do you expect

This little treasure is the perfect addition to your usual learning materials to unlock this secret world of gestures. The book was created by Italian artist Bruno Murani to try and help explain these little quirks to us outsiders. Each gesture is accompanied with a written explanation (in English and Italian) and a black and white photo. I particularly like the photos as they seem to get across the style and je ne sais quoi of the Italian culture. They almost feel like mug shots of old school Italian mobsters, which I just think is great. Not that I am saying Italians are all mafia of course… everyone I have met is lovely!

This won’t be something that you can use everyday but if you can remember it in the middle of a conversation the Italian you are speaking to will undoubtedly be impressed that you understand some of the unspoken rules of their language. I love having these books on my shelf to break things up when I am board of drilling grammar or vocabulary. My preferred approach is eclectic so I always have something different I can try to keep it interesting; and it seems to be working well so far.

Speak Italian - No Good

If you are looking for a book that will teach you lots of Italian phrases I would suggest you keep looking, although the explanations are a good way to learn new phrases as it has the translation as well, but if you want to try and unlock some of the hidden culture of Italy and get closer to it’s people it is a must have.

Here is a link to the UK Amazon if you are interested in picking it up. Or get your partner to buy it for you as a present like I did. She always knows the best presents for me!

I hope you enjoyed the review and stay tuned for more. If there is a particular book you want me to review let me know in the comments.

Ciao for now!

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