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A silver cornicello charm.

A cornicello or cornetto, Italian for "little horn" or "hornlet", sometimes abbreviated to corno, is an Italian amulet or talisman worn to protect against the evil eye (or malocchio) and bad luck in general, and, historically, to promote fertility and virility. In Neapolitan, it is called curniciello or variants thereof. The amulet is also sometimes referred to as the Italian horn.

Origins and styles

Red cornicello

In Italy many people wear the cornicello - an amulet of good luck used for protection against the evil eye curse. It consists of a twisted horn-shaped charm often made of gold, silver, plastic, bone, terracotta, or red coral.[1] Originally, cornicelli resembled an animal's horn, to represent fertility, virility and strength.[2] The shape and colour of the red cornicelli are reminiscent of a chili pepper.[3] A regionally popular amulet, they are used primarily in Italy in the region of Campania, as well as Lazio, Marche, Abruzzo, Calabria, Basilicata, Lombardy, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia[4] and elsewhere among descendants of Italian immigrants.


Possibly related to the corno is the mano cornuta or "horned hand." This is an Italian hand-gesture (or an amulet imitative of the gesture) that can be used to indicate that a man "wears the horns" and also to ward off the evil eye. Mano means "hand" and corno means "horn."[1]


  1. ^ a b Maberry, Jonathan and Janice Gable Bashman (September 2010). Wanted Undead Or Alive: Vampire Hunters and Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil. New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Corp. pp. 165–166. ISBN 0-8065-2821-4. 
  2. ^ "Perché si crede che il corno porti fortuna?" (in Italian). 26 June 2002. 
  3. ^ Lorena Fiorini (2016). Newton Compton, ed. Il peperoncino (in Italian). ISBN 978-88-54-19010-8. 
  4. ^ "Riti, amuleti e portafortuna. Ecco l'Italia scaramantica" (in Italian). La Stampa. 12 November 2012. 

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