‘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 😉