The evil eye is a pan-Mediterranean superstition. It has many manifestations, from a sinister but not personified force to a specific glare, usually from an elderly woman, which can initiate a spate of bad fortune.

The evil eye myth exists in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt,and North Africa, testifying to a common cultural heritage in all of these places. In southern Italy the legend is perhaps most prominent, and the evil eye goes by the name of 'maloccio'. There it is said to be warded off by a hand gesture that looks like an upside down devil's horns. The mere mention of maloccio may trigger a somewhat automatic flashing of the gesture, in much the same way as an American will 'knock on wood'. In the woppier parts of the Eastern US one will occasionally see jewlery with little hands in the shape of the warding off gesture.