Passionate Italians and Hand Gestures

My friends can see me talking from a mile away, even with my back turned. I’m the one with my hands gesticulating in the air, sometimes with elegant precision as I speak on my cell phone, sometimes with wild abandon as I’m ordering a sandwich. That’s because I was raised in an Italian household. Italians are typically expressive, passionate, and animated when communicating with others. It’s a demonstration of engagement and interest. Have you ever seen an Italian converse with his or her hands in their pockets? Never happens.

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Italians, young and old, male or female, gesture naturally. Whether they’re busy licking a gelato, smoking a cigarette, or zipping a manual-shift car around a hilltop town, Italians are quite adept at pairing any activity with vivid hand gestures when engaged in conversation. Writing letters must drive most Italians crazy, as expression is limited. I regularly use emoticons when dashing off an email or posting on social media, because sometimes words are just not enough, and it’s the closest I can get to gesturing.  😉

Most people shake hands, but Italians typically grasp the other’s arm at the same time. Eye contact is important to them, and so is close personal contact. In fact, once a relationship is established, even if an acquaintance, a kiss on both cheeks upon greeting is the norm. Public displays of affection among Italians are prevalent, both among couples and families. Sons and daughters are equally apt to hug and kiss their parents as a sign of respect and affection, and strolling arm and arm through Italian towns as an expression of companionship is practiced by neighbors and friends as much as by Italian couples, who typically prefer a lip lock and tight embrace as further acknowledgement of their mutual affinity.

Americans are known to gesture on occasion, such as a flipped bird (raised middle finger) during rush hour traffic, or pressed thumbs and knuckles in the shape of a heart from a mother to her child on the school bus, or the peace sign from a graduate accepting his diploma, among others. But here are a few Italian gestures you may or may not be aware of:

  • To gesture “Come here,” instead of beckoning with an index finger, an Italian sweeps an entire arm downward.
  • That beckoning index finger might signal a romantic enticement in both cultures. But in Italian culture, one might also do the same to signal that he or she wishes to convey something very important to another.
  • Index fingers pressed against the thumbs with a slight waggle of both hands means an exasperated “What do you want from me?”
  • The index finger twisted into the cheek means something is good, lovely, or tasty.
  • Tapping one’s wrist means “Hurry up.”
  • Two open hands stands for “What’s happening here?”
  • Waggling two hands pressed together as if in fervent prayer begs the question, “What do you want me to do about it?”
  • The backside of one’s fingers brushing the chin is a classic blow off, as in “Who gives a flying fig?”
  • My grandfather used to pat his throat, and say “gola, gola,” meaning that he had chocolate candy or decadent cookies to share. And my nana would simply throw her arms wide, demonstrating the need for a grandchild’s hug.

No matter the exuberant gesture, signal, facial or bodily indication, of which there are hundreds, Italians use them to enhance communication in an uninhibited, liberating way. Take it or leave it, we’re just letting you know how passionate we are on a subject.

SIENA’S PALIO: THRILLING TRADITION, COMPETITION, & PRIDE

Imagine that your hometown team will be competing in the biggest sporting event of the year, as it does every year, right in the center of town. Pack the venue with over 50,000 spectators, both local and international, all there to see your team participate. Now bring on all the fanfare and hoopla in the days leading up to the main event, including an open-air feast and a ritual blessing of the key player. Now imagine that this monumental sporting event lasts just seventy-five seconds…

Palio Aug 1995 news

For the people of Siena, Italy, this fantasy is a reality. Considered Italy’s most famous annual sporting event, Palio is a horse race that combines pageantry, competition, and civic pride. The Tuscan hillside town of Siena fans out from the central, shell-shaped Piazza del Campo town square, where the race is run. It extends outward, through the maze of cobblestone alleyways, stone houses, shops, and smaller piazze. Siena is divided into seventeen contrade, akin to the boroughs of Manhattan, in which neighborhoods aspire to a passionate regionalism based on centuries old tradition. Since the Middle Ages, ten of the contrade vie one another for bragging rights achieved by a victory in a bare-back horse race that’s one lap around the piazza. The first horse to cross the finish line, with or without the rider, wins.

The race, held twice a year on July 2 and August 16, is preceded by as much pomp and circumstance as the post-race victory parties. Participants and spectators have been brought to their knees over a loss, or a win. Every stage is critical, from the initial presentation of the horses, to the “tratta” in which the horses and jockeys are matched. It continues with the five preliminary runs, to the final rehearsal dinner, to the blessing of the horse and jockey inside the contrada’s parish church, and finally to the race.

Palio July 1981

I attended my first Palio with my dad when I was ten years old. With my Aquila scarf wrapped securely around my shoulders, I cheered parade flagbearers marching down the ancient cobblestone streets while my gelato ran down my arm. We watched a trial run. Serious business, as men in suits converged to hash out the players’ worth, similar to a football draft, only with horses. My favorite part was the pre-race dinner. I couldn’t believe that with all the eating, the drinking, the singing, and the cheering, they had yet to run the race! Though we missed the main race, I’d experienced something truly memorable.

Palio Aug 1995

Years later, my husband, Jamie, and I made it to the big event. We packed into Piazza del Campo with my cousins in early morning…and waited. For hours beneath the August sun, the piazza filled with spectators, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, or peering out from hotel windows overlooking the track. Fans from competing contrade would argue, laugh, make bets, and proudly wave their flags’ colors. At dusk, the tension was palpable. The crowds roared as the horses cantered into the piazza. The tradition of centuries past, and the competitive spirit roiling between the contrade, and the anxiety built up over days of preparation all came down to a race lasting just over a minute. In one mad dash around the track, colors blazed past us in a blur. Men, women, and children shouted and chanted the names of their contrada. Cameras flashed. Hoof-beaten dust flew into the humid Sienese twilight. I don’t remember who won. But I bet it was Aquila.

Like a good thriller, Palio’s suspense builds to a satisfying climax that resonates with fans until long after it ends. Want to live the thrill? Head to Palio. Want to read about it? My latest mystery novel, FORMULA, features Palio, and it’s coming soon!

“Bocce, Anyone?”

Bocce is a competitive sport, a strategic game, and a leisurely pastime, all rolled into one ever-popular activity. Dating back to the Roman Empire, bocce, in all its derivations, has since captured the hearts of players and spectators the world over, no matter the age or skill level, where the objective is to roll balls on a court as close to a target ball as possible to score points. And, if you peek into some of the backyards or parking lots of local hangouts across America, it seems the popularity of bocce has recently shifted into high gear.

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I have fond memories of running through my grandparents’ backyard as a young girl, tossing the tiny white pallina through the freshly mown grass of summer, while the adults chased after it with their teams’ heavier, larger, red or green balls in hopes of scoring points during a weekend pickup game in my mostly Italian neighborhood in South Buffalo, NY. Friends and neighbors would join in on the fun all day, some recounting how they used to play in their local piazza back in Italy. It was a chance to be together, and to catch up on each others’ lives. And no matter how old you were, it was an opportunity to forget life’s pressures and just play outside with your friends.

My husband, I later learned, did the same thing as a kid in Lawrence, Massachusetts. So, a few years ago, when my parents gave us a bocce set for Christmas, we decided to carve out a corner of our own yard for a court. When the ground thawed, we hooked some railroad ties together with rebar, and we spread some stone dust on a scrap of yard under some trees–instant bocce court! (Here’s a link on how to build your own court and how to play.) Now, every summer we pull up a few lawn chairs for our family, neighbors, and friends, and we roll out some fun. Our children are outside, getting fresh air and exercise, enjoying friendly competition with their buddies–they think it’s cool. Who am I to tell them it’s old-fashioned? Actually, it’s very cool these days. While still a regular fixture at many senior centers and public parks, now bars and restaurants are sacrificing parking space and rooftop accommodations for bocce courts because the demand is so high. Move over darts and billiards, bocce’s in town.

Major League Bocce is an organization, founded in 2004, that promotes bocce leagues for sport and fun across the country. Check out their website or Facebook page for locations around the country. The United States Bocce Federation, established in 1977, is the preeminent organization that sets the rules, promotes the sport, and establishes guidelines for players on the countrywide and international levels. This year, the Methuen Sons of Italy, Lodge 902 is hosting the 2015 U.S. Bocce National Championships, June 22-27. For the first time ever in New England, the championship will host over 150 elite bocce players in five different events over the week. If you think that you’ve got what it takes to compete with the best, or if you simply want to join in on the fun of watching the best, be sure to check it out!

Bocce’s come a long way, and now, more than ever, it appears that future generations are guiding it along to a thriving tomorrow. Perhaps soon, “Bocce, anyone?” will become just as likely an invitation as any other.

 

Gina Fava’s THE SCULPTOR wins GOLD for Best Mystery/Thriller Ebook in the Indie Pub Awards!

 THE SCULPTOR has won the GOLD medal for the Best Mystery/Thriller E-Book in the 19th Annual, 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

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I’m so honored and thrilled. Thank you, sincerely, to the judges, and most humbly to every one of my readers.

Congratulations to all the winners, and if you write everyday, you win everyday.

E3. BEST MYSTERY / THRILLER E-BOOK

GOLD: The Sculptor, by Gina Fava (Steepo Press)

SILVER: Twisted Vine, by Toby Neal (Self-Published)

BRONZE (tie): All Good Deeds, by Stacy Green (Twisted Minds Press)

Last Words, by Rich Zahradnik (Camel Press)

Click Here to Buy a Copy of THE SCULPTOR.

Click Here for the full list of the all those who submitted their work and medaled.

Congratulations to all who submitted, as the work is the ultimate reward.

 

Gina Fava’s THE SCULPTOR “Chisel A Review & Plaster it Everywhere” Contest

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“Chisel A Review and Plaster it Everywhere” Contest

To Enter:
1) After reading THE SCULPTOR, post a review on Amazon, Barnes & NobleGoodreads, your blog or website, AND/OR everywhere others can read it.

2) Use the contest entry form on my CONTACT page at my website, http://www.GinaFava.com/Contact, to include your name, email address, AND the link(s) to the blog or review website where you posted your review. It will better your chances of winning if you post on several sites.

This contest is worldwide and rolls out on May 21, 2014 and runs until midnight on November 7, 2014. On November 8, 2014 three winners will be chosen.

Prizes:
1st Place: $40 Barnes & Noble gift card + $10 Cold Stone Creamery gift card
2d Place: $30 Charming Charlie gift card
3d Place: $25 iTunes gift card

In addition, the winner of the Most Thoughtful Review will be acknowledged in my next book.

And, the person who wins the Funniest Review will be a named character in a future book.

Good luck, everyone! And, thank you for posting a review of THE SCULPTOR! It’s greatly appreciated.

SculptorCoverWithBlurbPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00020]For more information on THE SCULPTOR, or

Gina Fava’s thriller, THE RACE,

check out www.GinaFava.com.

 

Gina Fava’s THE SCULPTOR is Available Now!

The plaster has been chiseled away, 

and now all is revealed…

Gina Fava’s latest suspense thriller, THE SCULPTOR, has arrived!

SculptorCoverWithBlurb

 

DOES ART IMITATE LIFE, OR DOES LIFE IMITATE ART…

WHEN IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY?

 

Book Synopsis:

Rome’s serial killer has a way with the ladies…first he wines and dines them, then he carves and plasters them ― alive. Preying on the brilliant, voluptuous grad students of Rome’s universities, the Sculptor excises and molds their finest features for his personal gallery of adulation. The Sculptor, Italy’s most notorious serial killer since the Monster of Florence, has confounded Rome’s police force. Their slew of suspects is growing as fast as their list of victims.

Mara Silvestri is a saucy female grad student seeking to shed her past. When she discovers that the Sculptor is stalking her in a twisted game of cat and mouse, she becomes wary of her relationships with fellow students, art professors, her business mentor, and Jesse, a sexy lothario and mysterious colleague. Barely thwarting the Sculptor’s attacks in Rome, Venice, Tuscany, and the Swiss Alps, Mara uncovers the family secrets in her past that draw him to her. Can Mara turn the tables on the Sculptor before he finally claims her as his prized masterpiece?

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Book Details

Genre: Suspense Thriller
Published by: Steepo Press
Publication Date: May 21, 2014
Number of Pages: 450 print pages

Purchase Link:    

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  The Reviews are in! And here’s what they’re saying about

Gina Fava’s THE SCULPTOR: 

From the opening attack high in the Italian Alps to the final chilling twist in the dark streets of Rome, Gina Fava’s new novel, The Sculptor, carries the reader on a harrowing journey of nonstop action, with vivid settings, sympathetic characters, and a serial killer to die for. Highly recommended.”

 ―Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Monster of Florence.

 

“In The Sculptor, Fava has chiseled another fast-paced thriller featuring beautifully rendered European settings. I loved courageous heroine Mara Silvestri, and the rich cast of suspects kept me guessing right up until the hold-your-breath climax. An excellent read!”

―Steve Ulfelder, Edgar-nominated author of Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage

 

“After thrilling us with her action-packed debut novel, The Race, Gina Fava takes a slightly lateral move to an intimate, suspenseful, at times creepy but always gripping, mystery tale in The Sculptor.  Just when I thought that I figured out the bad guy, Fava threw me a curve, and then another, until I reached the shocking, satisfying conclusion.”

―J. H. Bográn, author of Firefall and Treasure Hunt

 

“Evil stalks the streets of Rome. A serial killer searches for his next victim amidst the ancient ruins and modern wonders. A smart, resilient, resourceful young woman crosses his path. How smart? How resilient and resourceful? Find out in The Sculptor, a page-turning, spine-tingling heart-stopper that will keep you up all night. And when dawn comes and you turn the last page, you will agree that Gina Fava is one of the rising young stars of the thriller genre.”

 William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Back Bay and The Lincoln Letter

 

A unique front-to-back thrill ride worthy of our primal senses. Deliver[s] a robust thriller for lovers of the genre.”

―Rob Watts, author of The Crooked Road Through Cedar Grove series

 

 GinaFavaPhoto_MGina Fava is a Buffalo, New York native and lives with her family in New England. The Sculptor, her second novel, is the first in her Mara Silvestri mystery series. She is also the author of The Race: A HELL Ranger Thriller. A University at Buffalo graduate, she also holds a law degree, and has studied art history and counter-terrorism in Rome. Stricken with wanderlust, she travels far and wide to research new characters and new places to murder them. Visit www.GinaFava.com.

Official Release of Gina Fava’s THE RACE Rolls Out with 2013 F1 Gran Premio D’Italia

By Will Pittenger (Formula1.com map, accessed 15 January 2009.) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Gina Fava releases her debut suspense novel,

The Race: A HELL Ranger Thriller

at Jamie’s Fine Wine & Spirits,

on September 7, 2013, 3-5 pm.

the same weekend as Italy’s Grand Prix Formula 1 Race.

Friday and Saturday:  Watch the prelims, live on SPEED Channel, and determine your favorite for the race that rolls on Sunday at 8am, at the fastest F1 track, Monza!

Saturday:  Come down to the open house event at Jamie’s Fine Wine, Carver, MA location, on September 7, 3-5pm, where Gina Fava will sign copies of her brand new novel, THE RACE, neck and neck with wine and microbrew tastings, plus nibbles, and giveaways, all under one roof!  The event is open to the public (wine & brew tasting is limited to those 21+.)  

Every signed copy of THE RACE you buy at Jamie’s Carver between 3-5 pm on September 7 gives you a chance to WIN  your choice of :

A bucket of brew

OR

A basket of wine!

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Sunday:  Enjoy THE RACE!!  Who’s YOUR favorite team to win the Italian F1 Grand Prix?

Visit http://www.GINAFAVA.com for details.