literally translates to “beautiful figure” — but it’s more idiomatic than that. The idea of maintaining a bella figura is more like the idea of maintaining a good public image. Italians don’t get drunk in public, eat while they walk or wear pajamas to the dinner table because it would have a negative impact on their image.
Why is it so important for Italians to look good?
“Bella figura” is more than just looking good it’s a way of life that emphasizes aesthetics and good behavior.
The thing about living in Italy is, people are generally more concerned with how they look than how you do. “Fare una bella figura” is a cultural and societal cornerstone for Italians. After choosing the perfect outfit and assessoirs, Italians step out into the world with the aim of making a good impression on anyone and everyone they may meet.
Dressing well and behaving well
In Italy, dressing well and behaving well is thus a sign to others that one respects oneself and those around them. But how does this attitude fit with Italian rudeness when it comes to traffic, standing in line or blocking a path by not giving way? What looks like a contradiction at first glance, is simple to explain: it´s important to make a good impression on people you know, like relatives, colleagues, neighbors and friends – everyone else is a stranger and doesn´t count.