Top 15 Italian Superstitions
Here are 15 Italian superstitions that you need to know or at least be aware of. We wouldn’t want your next trip to Italy to be cursed by the evil eye called Malocchio! Nothing is worth taking that chance!
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Every culture has its own superstitions passed down from generation to generation. I grew up making sure I didn’t walk under a ladder. What was your superstition growing up that your mother or grandmother told you?
Here they are in no particular order:
1. Cats (Felines)
Some of us grew up that it is a sign of good luck if a black cat crosses your path. Perhaps not during Halloween but this is not true in Italy. Black cats are thought to be a sign of bad luck.
2. A Loaf of Bread
A loaf of bread must always be placed on a table, facing up according to Italian traditions. This superstition is based on an old religious fact that bread is considered a symbol of life. It would be bad luck, therefore, to lay the bread upside-down on a table or counter.
3. Taking a Bath When Sick
If you are not feeling well and under the weather, you might be inclined to want to take a nice hot bath to soothe your aches and pains. However, according to Italian traditions, doing this when you’re sick will only make you worse. You also won’t see many Italian going outside with wet hair!
4. Lucky Number
Many countries think the number 13 is unlucky. You know you will hear about it from family or friends if a Friday falls on the 13th of the month! However, in Italy, 13 is considered a lucky number!
5. Unlucky Number
Italians do not care for the number 17. They feel it is a very unlucky number although I really couldn’t figure out why.
Continuing with Italian superstitions…
6. Making A Toast
When making a toast in Italy, it’s considered unlucky to do it with water. A toast is always done with champagne or wine. And when clinking glasses – never cross between others.
7. Your Hat
You will never find an Italian putting his or her hat down on a bed. It is considered unlucky as some associate this gesture with death.
8. Meeting and Greeting
We have all seen Italians greet each other with kisses on both cheeks. When it comes to shaking hands, Italians consider it bad luck to cross their arms when shaking someone’s hand.
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9. Dinner For?
Remember #5 above? Yup, there should never be 13 people sitting around a table. I read somewhere that this superstition refers to the Last Supper as there were 13 people at the table; twelve Apostles and Jesus. It is said that Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th man to sit at the table.
10. Seating Arrangements
If meeting friends and you are not married, be aware of where you sit at the table. Superstition in Italy says if you are single you should not sit at the corner of a table in Italy because it means you will not marry.
11. Spilling Salt and Olive Oil
Whatever you do, try not to spill any salt or olive oil as it is considered very bad luck. These items were very expensive way back when and it is said that spilling them would bring bad luck.
This one is so silly but Italian really believes it. If you are single, be careful when a friend or family member cleans the house in your presence. If the bristles of a broom touch your feet you will not get married!
13. New Home
A new home is always cleansed by performing a ritual such as sprinkling salt in the corners of all the rooms.
You see it everywhere, the cornicello charm which looks like a spicy red pepper. In Italy, this is a sign of good luck will come your way.
…And our final Italian superstition
15. A Sign
If you are walking outside and a pigeon poops on your head, it is a sign of good luck in Italy. Funny but I just don’t see the significance of this yuck being a good thing. In fact, we were in San Gimignano and it actually happened to Gary while we were eating gelato in a piazza. Not sure good luck has come to him but it was indeed funny!