In addition to sporting Crocs, baseball caps, fanny packs, and oversized water jugs, American tourists are notorious in Italy for neglecting to learn the beautiful language. Oftentimes, you’ll hear an American naïvely request tap water or order a cappuccino after noon when they should be ordering espresso.
Fortunately, the US Consulate in Milan has skipped the tedious “Dov’è il bagno?” and “Com’è stai?” lesson and instead created a rap music video teaching Americans the art of Italian hand gestures.
The video opens at Milano Centrale where consulate intern Brian Griffin raps of the daily linguistic obstacles Americans face in Italy.
Brian is initially very enthusiastic and hopeful, hopping off the Freccia train wearing a baseball cap and ray bans and taking a selfie with the Milan Clock Tower. He becomes frustrated when a bartender gives him red wine instead of water, so he takes his colleagues’ advice and begins a class on Italian hand gestures.
The hip, catchy chorus sings, “Teacher, SOS. I need your help, I wanna learn to talk with my hands.” Brian and his teacher form a clever refrain of essential phrases including “I am hungry”, “What do you want”, and “Drink some wine” choreographed with the classic gestures.
Soon, the whole consulate staff is singing and dancing in a conference room with the Italian and American flags mingling in the background. The Statue of Liberty joins them, with Walkman headphones resting on its shoulders, rhythmically tossing a water bottle side to side.
Even President Obama makes an appearance, albeit on a poster board with someone behind moving his arms. Other guest stars include NY Yankees fans and the delectable hazelnut cocoa spread beloved by Americans and created by Italians: Nutella.
Americans should exercise caution when attempting to communicate with these gestures. For example, I would advise against using the aggressive “I don’t care” gesture if a nonna is asking whether you would like to eat her homemade tiramisu or her homemade cheesecake.
The video ends on a high note, with the staff singing in unison. It’s a Rap!