La bella figura is an Italian way of life and literally means “the beautiful figure.” This philosophy is rooted deeply for Italians but remains a difficult concept for outsiders to understand.
Bella Figura Explained
Bella figura is expressed in many different ways such as how you look, how you compose and present yourself, or how you make the best possible impression in all aspects of life. Beauty in all forms. Bella figura is more than just an image or visual presentation, it is also expressed through actions and behavior. Being gracious and elegant in social situations. What closely as you travel, see the care taken in store front windows or the grace in which cappuccino is made. The Bella Figura is everywhere.
Other examples that seem silly at first to an outsider would be the Italian who would rather miss the bus and be late to an engagement than become disorderly and sweaty by rushing madly to try to make it on time. Or the fact that an Italian will rarely tell you no, but gracefully accept your invitation even if they have no intention of following through. As a very hands on and playful mother, I noticed glaring differences in parenting styles. Once at the beach, I was the only mom playing in the sand and getting just as dirty as their child. All around me, Italian women lay pristinely on their clean blankets. I have no problem dropping my children off at school in sweats, yet Italian mothers wouldn’t dream of stepping out of the house without looking their best. Even Italians living modestly and with meager income will have at least one quality suit and shoes which they take pride in wearing each day.
I can never truly live the La Bella Figura to the fullest, but at least when I am traveling I have fun trying my best. You should do the same and see what happens.
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Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel