How to behave like an Italian: fare la bella figura…

…and its evil twin: fare la brutta figura

Fare la Bella FiguraIf you have been to Italy before, we are sure you would have noticed how much Italians watch their manners and style. There really is something special that you just do not feel in other countries: everyone seems perfectly put together and ready to please others. Why is this, we hear you asking? Because in Italian society, the concept of “la bella figura”, literally, “good figure”, which we could explain by (making) “a good impression” is engraved in people’s minds from young.

However, making a good impression is much wider that you might think of it in other countries; showing up with perfectly ironed clothes that fit you like a glove and your hair done straight from the salon might be an instance of bella figura, but so can be walking down the street with a charming step, paying for your friend’s drink when you meet or getting good results in your exams so you can make your family proud.

For every positive there is a negative, and although we are sure you will, by now, have a very good idea that fare la brutta figura could be translated as leaving a bad impression, we will dare to give you a couple of examples, such as arriving late to an appointment, bad mouthing, inviting someone to a badly-organised function or turning up to a birthday party without a present or a card.

In summary, it is not only about the way you appear to others, but about small gestures of kindness that prove that you care for your loved ones and pride on your everyday tasks. After all, there is nothing better than buying a couple of cakes to bring to your friend’s house for dinner (bella figura) and the way the seller will wrap them carefully and add a bow and a sticker to make them look beautiful (bellissima!).

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