La bella figura (‘the good impression’)

‘La bella figura’: one of the Italian cornerstones you had better get familiar with, if you really wish to live like an Italian. First of all: what does it mean? And, most of all, how does it translate into English?

Well, let’s say that the locution ‘la bella figura’ is always associated with the verb ‘fare’ (to make).‘Fare una bella figura’: ‘la bella figura’ is something that you make. It may be translated into ‘make a good impression’ or ‘make someone look good’ and is always associated with words like ‘honor’, ‘respect’, ‘reputation’.

The word ‘figura’ has many English translations: figure, shape, impression, illustration, picture, position, face card. All of them can be applied to the ‘bella figura’, as ‘the good impression’ is deeply rooted in all Italians, but at the same time it refers to something superficial. Let’s put it straight: you have to make ‘a bella figura’ to let people think highly of you. The important thing to understand here is that what counts is ‘what people think of you’ not ‘who you really are’ intrinsically. You get it? Ironically, the wish to make a ‘bella figura’ may lead you to overdo things, and make a fool of yourself (‘una brutta figura’). I have a quite a few hilarious examples to share with you.

So, if you wish to enjoy my monthly podcast on how to make ‘a bella figura’ (and on how to avoid ‘brutte figure’), go to my How to Be Italian  project 😉



  1. Interesting post Simona! I think we don’t have that exact phrase here– but we all do try to make a good impression. Sometimes we let it be too important. And- I’m wondering where you took that photo??!! Hope you’re having a sweet weekend. We have lots of family in for 2 bridal showers for our daughter. (they all went down to the beach this afternoon), take care… xox

  2. Ciao Rhonda! Wow, 2 bridal showers for your daughter! Congratulazioni! I guess you all are going to be pretty busy and thrilled! Have a great time with your family! As far as the picture is concerned, I was at Cesena Street Food Festival and as Andy Garcia makes a commercial in Italy for Amaro Averna – and Amaro Averna had a booth at the fair – I could not resist the temptation to take a picture with the actor’s cardboard version 🙂 xoxo

    • Hi Rhonda! You are such a good friend 🙂 I feel guilty now! Did not mean to make you worry! It’s just that this past month I did not manage to make everything fit in my too optimistic schedule! I guess I need to take a step back in life during Summer holidays and see if I really am able to keep up with all I want to do! You know how it works: everything goes smoothly unless a few (or too many) unexpected events break into your life!!! How are you, cara amica? I hope all is well with you and your family. Thank you for thinking of me!!! Have a great day! xoxo and lots of hugs

      • Oh please– don’t feel quilty Simona!! I’m just happy to hear your days are full and you’re doing well… I’m a definite over-planner as well. I’m trying to learn to leave gaps in my week so I can be free to jump in and be ready to help– our parents, friends… And to take some time to just rest! Hope your unexpected events are all the best kind– and you are enjoying your summer there. hugs friend- love being in touch with you!

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