Monday, 31 March 2014

Bella Figura

My A-Z Challenge series is about Italy, it's lifestyle, the country and other miscellaneous things in regard to it.
Photo from here

Translated literally as The Beautiful Figure. It is very important in Italy how you dress, it has to be 'right', at least right in the eyes of Italians. You don't need to be fashionable, but do need a sense of style, be tidy but above ll be 'correct'. I won't even try to tell you what correct is, I haven't lived there enough to get it right myself you imbue the knowledge over time, best to be born there otherwise if you emigrate it will be a while before you start to prove yourself with your clothing and how to put it together to integrate fully. Before that Italians won't see you as being correct and probably won't have any compunction in holding back to tell you where you are going wrong. Going wrong is easy to explain,less so is the explaining in ow to get it right. You will get there but it takes time. 

Bella Figura doesn't just mean what and how you put yourself together style wise but also your behaviour. It's a funny thing as people always think how easy it must be to live in Italy, how slow and relaxed the people are but actually it can be a bit of a minefield. Say the wrong thing and round the town it will go, however innocuous it may have seemed. The same for doing the wrong thing. Eat at the wrong time of day, drink a coffee a the wrong time and whoops you've committed a 'Brutta Figura' an ugly figure, which people will then think of you. It's basically creating a good impression, letting people realise you know how to behave, usually it's pretty obvious being helpful, gracious etc. Bit occasionally it's more complex such as not wearing trousers when you should have worn a dress. For myself I think I must live a Brutta Figura life when I'm over there as I know my clothes are too scruffy, too unstylish and I drink coffee at all times of the day and add far too much milk sometimes. I don't move forward to give the obligatory kiss and so many other blunders it's a wonder I don't have a stamp on my forehead given to me by people for making so many. But they forgive me, plus i don't hear what they are probably saying to each other.

So, it's about creating a good impression about yourself and your family, through what you wear and how you wear it, how you present your home, what you feed your guests at meals, where you eat out,where you shop, s many small things but all noticed by other people and probably talked about - Italians do gossip, it is practically cultural to do so. That is the point of the Bella Figura, it's not just who sees but who they tell. If you get it right all is well, if you don't it's not really a problem they won't think the less of you but do try harder next time.


This is the first A-Z Challenge post for this year's challenge. My series is about Italy, it's lifestyle, the country and other miscellaneous things in regard to it.

Anzio 1944

We will be starting with the town I know most about where a lot of my family live and where I have lived while young myself. If any non Italians have heard of the town it is usually the generation who lived through the war, the second world one, and know of the Anzio beach landings. Many men died there in 1944, Germans, British but mostly Americans. Not so many Italians themselves as they had been evacuated out of the town before the landings. They lived where they could during this time, most in caves nearby, some of my family even slept in a large wine barrel for a while. There is a  lot of recorded history regarding the military aspects of this place but not of the inhabitants themselves, less well known is how the residents, along with most of the other Italians of the country were starving, literally down to skin and bone yet took in soldiers and cared for them if they were injured - soldiers of all nationalities. Their allegiances were meant to be for the Fascists yet so many Italians never wanted to follow the Germans into the war, so many were not Fascists but the opposite, Communists. Families were often torn between the two, mine included with my grandmother following one side my grandfather the other, but the main thing on their minds was not winning the war, it was "where will the next meal come in, how do we protect our children, where do we sleep tonight".

Anzio now is very different, almost completely rebuilt as so much had been bombed and destroyed, it's back to being a holiday town for the people of Rome in the hot Summer months, just as it has been for the last 2,000 years. Nero had his Summer palace there, the place where he allegedly played the violin while Rome burned. The legends go that there are tunnels leading from Rome to his ruins some of it under the sea, something that many of the youth of Anzio over the years have tried and failed to find. Beaches, lots of fish restaurants, weekly mercato full fresh and inexpensive fruit and vegetables, bustling Piazza next to the busy harbour, not a huge amount to do other than walk around meet your friends and acquaintances and pass the time with them and a caffe or glass of water.

It's not a 'pretty' town, not like a hilltop one or a medieval one set in the deep countryside of rolling hills like in Tuscany, but the people are happy, kind, expressive and welcoming. It's my favourite of all Italian towns, I know I'm prejudiced but why not, it really is the best.

Anzio harbour

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Vintage Hats

Some shop front displays are so lovely or quirky I've decided to set up an occasional post about them.

This one is in my city shopping centre, it's new and I hadn't noticed before this display. The shop sells hats, obviously, with other items such as bags and scarves. All very vintage looking. There are clutch bags, travelling bags as well as hats galore as you can see. It caught my eye as I went past and I couldn't resist photographing it giving me the idea for this new occasional series of posts.

It looks like the type of shop Miss Marple might have gone in, have a little gossip with the shop keeper and any other customers in there about village life and it's occupants, sitting on little chairs while they viewed and tried on a few hats before choosing one to maybe be used for more shopping trips, or perhaps going to an invitation to tea at a friends.

A very sweet looking shop and I do hope it does well. It's in a corridor arcade which had until recently been dying off as shops were closing and not being replaced due to extortionate council charges. This corridor is on the up again with several new shops opening up again like this one so maybe the council have come to their senses and dropped the rental a little. No point over charging if there's no-one to pay. I haven't been in and bought anything yet but maybe next time I'm passing. Unfortunately the photo isn't very clear as the glass front at the bottom is slightly fogged which comes out more in the photo than when actually standing in front of it, still - hope you can see it well enough.