La Bella Figura

Travel Tips, What's New — By katiegreenaway on April 6, 2010 at 10:57 am

The Italian philosophy of La Bella Figura is something I learned a few years back.  The essence of this phrase is “to convey a desirable image” in all aspects of appearance, presentation and behavior.  La Bella Figura is about looking and being your very best all the time.  Italians especially exude this more in the south.  Although it is heard of in the north of Italy as well.

The literal meaning is this:

La Bella Figura meaning literally “the beautiful figure” but in full, it is a way of expressing yourself in beauty, good image, aesthetics and proper behavior. Even though most people thinks of the physical side of La Bella Figura, ever so often I forget about the part about etiquette.  Speaking and presenting oneself with elegance and granduer in particular situations.  It is basically behaving properly, appropriately and respectfully is crucial in maintaining the right air of Bella Figura both in family situations as well as in the business world. Essentially putting your best foot forward and presenting yourself to the world in the best way you can.

This will refer to how you dress, how you take care of yourself and how you make a first impression on people.  Italy is full of people that carry themselves in a different way.  They care about details about an outfit, they walk a certain way like to say “I’m in control”.  For example, even the uniforms of the Italian policemen, soldiers, and carabinieri are more stylish and elegant than those of neighboring countries.  There is a certain aspect of fashion that consists in the military uniforms.  The carabinieri must always wear a beret kind of hat and also gloves.  There pants are always pressed do neatly.  The men seem to stand taller with uniforms like this.  When the right combination of shoes, hat, accessories and color come together, one is considered to have achieved La Bella Figura. Dark sunglasses at night is something that is always seen in Florence.


Tourists can not compete when it comes to Italian fashion.  Chances are when someone is walking the streets of Florence with a fanny pack and a shirt that says “ITALIA”, they are a tourist.  No need to replicate exactly the Italian style when you come abroad.  All you need to keep in mind is that if you carry yourself well and you dress according to weather(not wearing ripped jean shorts or tank tops when it is 60 degrees out) you will be expressing the beauty that you give to the world.  I understand it as giving back to the world with your beautiful energy, your beautiful look and your beautiful attitude towards people around you. Being confident in yourself and loyal to family and friends, this is La Bella Figura.  Act politely to the Italians, don’t demand.  Be aware you are a guest in their country.  Speak Italian, at least try, the effort is what La Bella Figura is about.  Be confident.   Wear the proper attire when visiting monuments like I mentioned in the last post.

La Bella Figura is believed that it enhances beauty and peace in the world.  Shouldn’t we spread more beauty and peace??

“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.”

– Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren


  • Erica Firpo says:

    La bella figura– looking good. But more importantly, non fare la brutta figura!!! Grazie, Prego, Per Favore, Per piacere all help you obtain the bella figura as it is not just about how you look but how you comport yourself with others.

    Live life a la Sophia!


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