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9 Ways To Adopt An Italian Lifestyle (Living Bella Figura)

Live like the Italians do and embrace bella figura with these 9 simple ways to adopt this Italian lifestyle that will have you living your life to the fullest and appreciating beauty on a daily basis.

green apartment door in Italy

First off, I should start by saying, I am not Italian. More of an Italophile. Which I have never before referred to myself as but am very much one. My life is simple with an Italian flare, if I were to describe it.

I have written and created a lot of content in regards to simple living. A concept of slowing down ones life and beginning to appreciate the small moments of ordinary life. There is a little more to it than that. However for the sake of this post I will only mention it briefly because as it stands the Italians seemed to have mastered this sort of lifestyle before any of us simple living enthusiasts. Which is exactly what I am going to share with you today. A new twist on simple living, sort of simple living the Italian way, if you will.

Before I get into this list, it might help you to understand how I came to know this and adopt this lifestyle for myself.

Before realizing any of this, somewhere out of the clear blue whatever, it became a dream of mine (maybe I should call it a plan at this point) to live in Tuscany several months of the year. But also keep our house here in California as a home base. After visiting the area a few years back, something stuck with me that I can’t quite figure. Perhaps it was the history, the beauty that is found in every corner or the slower pace of life that I hadn’t quite fully grasped on my visit. I rushed through the streets wanting to see everything I had come for. My eyes fixed on the GPS on my phone screen. The slow striding Italians likely annoyed by my quick pace. Where was this crazy American going in such a rush?

Duomo in Florence
a building in Italy

In all honesty, the destinations were always packed and less appealing in person to me as I don’t particularly enjoy crowds. But when you make the mistake of purchasing a days worth of tickets in advance, your time quickly becomes jammed packed. The train ride through the country side of rolling hills and farmhouses was the first time I had fully appreciated its beauty. It was only when I had given up my quest to see it all that I could take in the sights and appreciate them.

child walking in Rome
restaurant in Rome

Walking the streets of Rome down neighborhoods and alleys, I could see the locals. Entering coffee bars and strolling with buggies filled with their days fresh produce. Old men in passionate discussions at tables playing games. I felt like I was in the scene of an old Italian movie.

The apartment we stayed in was ancient with brick exposed walls and the windows opened out without a screen. You couldn’t help but open them to invite the cool breeze in and whatever fly in the area that happened to be zooming by. It didn’t matter. The breeze and hearing their beautiful language spoken in casual conversations amongst the neighbors was worth it. When we would stumble out of the narrow staircase to enter the courtyard each morning you would see clotheslines filled with freshly laundered clothes and ladies watering their flower pots. There was a distinct difference here that was hard to nail down. But I felt it in the warm sweet air of the day.

As I watched the locals go about their business, they did so in a manner that was at ease and with joy. A smile, a chat, a stroll, and walking. So much walking. The city was quiet come mid day, another surprise as lunch there was an event of some sort. Many shops were closed and at first I felt a little annoyed. How can they be closed at 1?! I quickly learned they would open back up in the later afternoon after taking a long lunch and an afternoon siesta. Many restaurants didn’t serve dinner until much later so there would be no dinner reservation for the early evening.

Arriving Home

I would love to say that this trip had me doing a deep dive into Italian living but instead I came home with a greater appreciation for my large yard and garden. For the air conditioning and the dryer I can use anytime I want because let’s face it, here hanging clothes is for nostalgia and not out of necessity.

However, since the trip, I had embraced simple living. This for me meant reducing long hours of work, making myself slow down in the day, to stop being the consumer I had previously been and yes, to grow a garden. Incidentally, the combination of seeking daily beauty, the simplicity of my life and the appreciation for growing food, and cooking everything entirely from scratch. I found myself basking in a lifestyle that was hard to put into words because it had become so much more than just simple living. It became beautiful living.

Only recently had I learned what I was naturally doing in my day to day life was what the Italians have been doing for centuries. Referred to as bella figura, which in Italians mean beautiful figure but this Italian phrase means so much more than the translated meaning. This refers to beautiful living, a way of life that has you emphasizing your own beauty, style, etiquette and creating beauty around you simply for the pleasure of it.

I am going to take you through a list of ways that you can begin to submerse yourself in this lifestyle no matter where you live in the world. 

Food

When it comes to living well, Italian style, the best place to start is with food. Good food. We all know about Italian food or the wildly popular Mediterranean diet, a way of eating a balanced diet with healthy fats used like olive oil. But its also the love of fine wine, delicious pastas and a coffee culture that is taken seriously and very much apart of daily life. 

Italians have a bit of a love affair with their food. Not only do they put love into the food they cook but they deeply appreciate quality food. A garden is essential to many Italian’s and if they don’t have a garden to eat from they do the next best thing, buy local produce. In Italy, most Italians purchase their foods fresh, cook it and then do it all over again a day or so later.

In the states, we are used to stocking up on a big shopping trip, buying out of season produce year round and also relying heavily on pre made or quick convenient foods. I have, for the most part, always cooked from scratch. Although I have not always paid attention to or put an emphasis into the ingredients I used.

 I simply went to the market and purchased my items based on the sales. Since having a garden and being able to pick fresh herbs regularly, my love for cooking has further grown and my skillset around the kitchen has done so right along with it. Appreciating food, cooking with joy and paying attention to the quality of the food you bring into your home is a great way to adopt an Italian lifestyle. This one change will create beauty and pleasure on a daily basis.

Appreciating The Small Things


Arguably one of the most healthy habits we can do is to take a little time to appreciate the small things in life. Its a simple reason why some people are filled with joy while others aren’t. Taking the time to taste our coffee and not take it along in a mad dash to get things done. Or strolling for the sake of it instead of parking as close as you can to a building and hurrying your way to the line. These are small things to consider that can have a big impact on your life.

As Americans, it must be imbedded into us to be in a hurry. No one tells you this, you just sort of look around and see everyone in a hurry so you feel you need to be as well. I suppose this is how Italians have been able to preserve their way of life for so long, it is learned behavior. They grow up, taking their time to do things. They learn to savor their days and moments along the way so it becomes second nature.

Look at your day, what can you do to slow down, and take time to enjoy yourself more? Maybe stop eating in front of the tv or at your desk, if you are guilty. Take the time to set a spot at your table, even if alone and enjoy it. Take an evening walk after dinner and observe the nature around you or to take in the city if you are in one. Embrace slow, simple moments throughout your day so that you can further appreciate life and see the beauty that is there. This might be the key to the sweet life.

Dressing Well

Bella figura also refers to how we dress ourselves. Dressing well is a form of caring for ourselves and is an excellent way to practice this concept. We shouldn’t be waiting for a man in our life or special occasions to wear a dress or put a little lipstick on. No, we should do it for the sake of feeling beautiful and this also includes what we wear at home when no ones looking. Sleeping in something that makes you feel lovely, or even sensual is a form of caring for ourselves. It is about treating yourself well, and presenting yourself in the best way possible whether at home or in public. It is one of the best ways we can embody bella figura.

Meal Time

As we already covered, food is a vital aspect in Italian living but how we enjoy the food is equally so. Setting the table, and gathering around it with others to enjoy a meal made with love and quality ingredients. Does life get better than this? Likely not. 

Sunday lunch with friends is a practice found throughout Italy and among Italian families. It is a ritual that nurtures relationships. Make sure to take the time to enjoy your meals and have them as often with others as you can. Remember, just like dressing well, it is also important to do things beautifully for oneself even when alone. So even when dining solo, take the time to make a healthy meal and set a nice place to sit to enjoy it. This is not only an example of bella figura but a form of self care.

Walking

Italians walk like crazy. In Italy there is so much in walking distance of one another things just don’t seem to be as spread out as they are here in the states. From neighborhood cafes, coffee bars, local grocers, outdoor markets, the butcher on the corner and even piazzas filled with wonderful places to dine or watch street performers. Taking an after dinner stroll is quite common with Italians both young and old.

Walking is a great form of exercise, it gets us outside and also has a positive impact on our mental health. So consider walking more, parking further from the store, taking after dinner strolls and walking over driving whenever possible.

Italians walking in Italy

Doing Nothing

Recently, I came across this concept of allowing oneself to do nothing and just being ok with it as part of good mental health. At first glance I wondered how not doing anything could help anyone, it seemed so counterproductive. But then I started to take moments in my day to do nothing just to see if there were benefits to this. What happened was the realization of guilt that came over me the first time I tried it. I sat in a chair with a cup of tea and listened to the birds outside my window.

I kept thinking, this is not productive, I need to get up and go do xyz. Then my mind would start thinking of what I needed to do or what I could be doing. Then it hit me, this is why doing nothing is important. For many of us the feelings associated with doing nothing can be negative at first. The need to fill every moment of our time up with something is where the issue lies. I needed to free myself from the habit of filling every moment.

Turns out that doing nothing was a good thing. Without the guilt, without thinking we could be doing something more productive. But just simply doing nothing whether that is sitting on a bench admiring the birds, chatting with a friend on the phone. Even thumbing through a coffee table book with your tea. This is quality time spent.

Italians allow themselves time for doing these sort of things, it is apart of the slower paced lifestyle they lead. It has taken me many years to allow myself the room to do nothing regularly. I have had to quiet down the nagging voice that tells me I should be doing something on my to-do list instead. i.e. the result of having lived a fast-paced lifestyle for most of my life.

The more I spend time allowing this for myself, the more peaceful my life feels. Therefore, this is an easy way Italians bring more joy and less stress into their days. Furthermore, spending time doing nothing, is one of the little things you can do to adopt an Italian way of life.

Not Always Buying New

One of the very first things I realized when I began my journey towards living a simple life was to stop being such a consumer. Americans are notorious fast fashion consumers, who upgrade their things on a continuous basis as a way of life. In Italy, they are quite the opposite. Italians try to use what they have. Fix what is broken and are not keen on replacing their things regularly to buy the latest model or item available.

This also goes for fashion, they shop for quality pieces over owning a ton of fast fashion items in their wardrobes. You can adopt this idea anywhere you live and begin to value your things along with saving a few bucks while you’re at it. Here you can learn more on how to budget for a simple life if this is something you struggle with.

Appreciating All Ages

This is one of the most admirable things I have come to know about Italians. Walking their streets you will notice that everyone walks from young moms with their children to elderly couples or widows out taking an after dinner stroll. It’s an incredible place to people watch. If you are into that sort of thing. One thing that stood out to me, was the older Italians. Dressed to the nine and chatting their way through their city.

It was clear to me that even at an elderly age, Italians liked to look good and be seen. They were greeted as they passed shops by name and you could see the clear respect given towards them. Which living in the states felt so refreshing to see. So whatever you age you are, embrace it, age gracefully, take care of yourself, and always value the beauty you posses at any age.

Gardening

Having a garden is a big part of Italian culture both here in the US and in Italy. This goes right back to the love affair Italians have with food and quality ingredients. I had an Italian lady who lived next door to me when I was younger, Lucille. Lucille was 92 years old, feisty as ever and out in her garden every single day. She didn’t let her cane stop her or slow her down any. Instead she went about her days moving around her garden hoe in one hand, cane in the other.

Her large straw hat peaking over the side fence indicating her presence. Often she would stand at the gate and tell stories of her youth spent in the garden with her family. Learning, pulling weeds and picking fresh vegetables for meals. This to her was a way of life, notably her Italian way of life and one any of us can adopt anywhere we live.

The health benefits of gardening are important to note but also the cultural tradition of having one. Italian people might have something to teach us even beyond living well when it comes to overall health. Lucille is the perfect example. At 92 years old, she went about her days cooking fresh from her garden, tending to it and walking around the old city streets on a daily stroll. I can tell you this lady lived a healthy lifestyle and her quality of life showed in her vibrant personality. 

Consider a garden or at the very least, a pot of herbs.

Final Thoughts

Living La Bella Figura is very similar to the concept of simple living in that it is all about being intentional. Leading a life intentionally is looking for the beauty in the day, appreciating it and in this case, taking it a step further, as the Italians suggest, to create it whenever possible. Just for the pleasure of it. If you take anything from this post, I hope it is this. To live a life where beauty is a priority.

Living a good life is not about the things you own or the money in your bank account. It is about the beautiful moments we can appreciate, take the time for and savor. Whether that be in the form of a good meal, a daily stroll or a moment to sit with a friend for coffee. Living bella figura, is for anyone willing to embrace it.

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4 Comments

  1. Hi Roxanna, just read your post about living Bella figura! Beautifully written!!! You were brought into my life by my sister, as you know…but truly feel it was through the hands of God, too! You have inspired me to slow down a bit and cherish more of the things we so often take for granted. I know the things you say on YouTube are probably monitored and you have to be careful, but in my heart I know that you give all glory to God for how far He’s brought you and your precious daughter!
    You are making a difference in lives that need to hear ! Thank you again and may He continue to bless you both!!❤️
    Maureen

    1. Hello Maureen!

      Thank you so much for visiting the site! I understand completely what you mean. I think God is in everything and I do give glory to Him everyday. I am so glad I could be a light in anyway. I appreciate all your kindness and support. May you blessed as well. ❤

  2. I shared this article with a friend, and she told me she wants to live an Italian lifestyle by moving to Italy for a few years. I agreed with her that would be fun!!

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