What Is an Italian Horn?

by Kathy Adams ; Updated September 29, 2017

An Italian horn is similar in shape and size to a chili pepper.

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An Italian horn, also called a corno or cornicello, is shaped like a twisted animal horn. This symbol often is worn as a pendant on a necklace to protect against evil and curses. Larger versions of the corno sometimes are sold as adornments for key chains.

Superstitious Origins

Some Italian superstitions revolve around evil or the evil eye, known in Italian as the malocchio. Charms such as the corno or cornicello -- "horn" and "little horn," respectively -- protect wearers from malocchio, curses and evil in general. Although these twisted horn shapes predate Christianity, they sometimes are worn paired with a cross symbol. Some believe the horn shape is based on the horn of the African eland, as the twisted shape is quite similar to this animal's horns. Italian horn symbols typically are made of gold or silver; a piece of red coral worn as a pendant sometimes takes the place of the twisted horn. Some people of Italian heritage wear the horn because it is a tradition and considered good luck. In some families, a horn is pinned on a newborn baby's clothing for protection and luck.

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About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, Kroger, SFGate and others.