Thursday, March 15, 2007

bella figura

Come sei bella!
I learnt quite soon that fare bella figura – to cut a good figure in public was very important, and that the accompanying exclamation ‘Come sei bella’ literally, how beautiful you are, was to be desired.
I think I can safely say no-one in my past goes around telling people at random. ‘you are so beautiful’, but perhaps If I had made a really special effort, they may say you look stunning!
I go into work wearing a new dress, all the girls there say “Come sei bella!” At first I was a bit taken aback, but now I like it. I’ve watched Amantes’ six year old niece and his daughter being constantly given verbal adoration, not to mention every baby in any piazza around Italy. So now I say ‘Thank you’.
The opposite, fare brutta figura - to make an idiot of yourself, was to be avoided at all cost. Italians also have that wonderful verb sculettare, meaning to wiggle your bum down the road.
The most interesting Italian television shows ‘Blob’, concerns itself with constantly taking the mickey out of politicians and assorted show girls on T.V. (the content of 90% of Italian T.V.). Berlusconi, with his all too frequent gaffs, features regularly on it.
Italians take the impression they make in public very seriously, thereby laying themselves wide open to derision. Huge melon-like breasts straining under too little lycra, are thrust in viewers faces constantly. Lips that should look pouty but are rather too ambitiously plumped up with silicon, giving the impression of tarted-up blowfish are ever present. My mama in law calls them all troie- whores, and yet I sense, the majority love all this prancing around on T.V.
Sunday brings a show called Buona Domenica, an all day long ‘boobfest’ masquerading as a current events show. The host, rotund and in his twilight years, mumbles incoherently behind a CharlieChaplin- like square of moustache, while nubile girls gyrate and pout all around him, no-one saying anything of much significance. This would almost be tolerable, if it wasn’t for the fact that this year he is now also on Channel Five every morning from eight till lunch doing a talk show of sorts, with more or less the same suspects, boobs and bums.
Recently, there is a wife swapping reality show on, that my colleagues talk about. The things that shock them are not the moral decisions, but rather what the other wife wore, how often she dusted her ornaments, how hot she made her husbands coffee, how she did her washing, how clean her house was. There was little or no sexiness about this wife swap. In the end it all boiled down to ‘being in control’ or sistemazione, something women threaten boyfriends, husbands and children with, and bosses their employees.
So T.V. doesn’t supply much culture, but in the towns of Italy, there are concerts going on, with fabulous talent, largely going unnoticed.
Amante and I often say to each other Italy is full of talented musicians, but none of them are on T.V.
Around the world Pavarotti, Bocelli and their kind are lauded and greeted with delight, but when I speak to people here in Italy, they say Pavarotti is not really Italian anymore,
“Why?” I ask
“He left Italy to escape tax,”
“But who hasn’t, and he still has a home here.” I counter.
“Well he really became unpopular when he left his lovely Italian wife and ran off with his young assistant.
“Really?” I say, thinking, “ Well, that rules out quite a slice of the male population from lasting appreciation”.Whenever I mention these maestri the locals snort with derision, and in all my years as a visitor and now resident I’ve never seen them featured on Italian T.V. It seems, in the past Italy’s best often left to seek fame, fortune and support in the West, and then, when they returned to the bel paese, they were treated with scorn. It’s the traitor syndrome


Anonymous said...

Ah, but you are so beautiful!

And Pavarotti's lovely assistant was also italian.

The traitor system is alive and well. Awesome post girl!

emily said...

I attempted to get into showbusiness, or 'acting'as I mistakenly called it years ago. Did my bit dressed as a bunny with Fabio Fazio and danced as a 'She-devil' representing Milan during the European championships- they lost and channel Five didn't call me for sometime...
My last audition was for a 'T&A' show .
They asked us to wear a size 0 t-shirt with no bra and to run around in circles. I left the studio and never went back.
Went to Piccolo Teatro and I was too old at 22 to sign up for very expensive acting courses- no auditions.
It got too difficult to do my Stanislavski memory recall in my underwear- I gave up...

Como the beautiful

Como the beautiful
walk near the lake

Hidden Italy, the places we visit regularly from Tuscany to the lake district above Como.

When I became a resident in Italy in 2001, I already knew how visitors liked to praise her places, food and art.
I had visited many times as a visitor myself, and been enchanted.
This site is rather designed to show the hidden Italy, the real Italy experienced by it's residents.
The events of the year, from registering as a resident, to celebrating Christmas, Easter and many other festivals, buying a house, working, banking, and still enjoying its beauty, are to be found here.

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expresso machine

expresso machine
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my mother

my mother
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My favourite writings on Italy

  • Italian Education/Cara Massimina Tim Parks
  • Where angles fear to tread E.M. Forster ISBN0140180885
  • A small place in Italy ISBN0330338188
  • D.H.Lawrence and Italy ISBN 0140095209
  • The Italians by Luigi Barzini Touchstone books ISBN 068482500