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La Bella Figura: An Insiders Guide to The Italian Mind by Beppe Severgnini

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Non Fiction

By Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

I dived into La Bella Figura over Christmas as a complete distraction, an escape from the daily depressing Covid-related news. Our last holiday that we should have been on in June 2020 was cancelled due to the Pandemic and was supposed to be to Sardinia, an island I have visited in the past and one we wanted to bring our two teenage daughters to. I have a passion for Italy, having travelled there over the years to many places, including driving through the cypress hills and sunflower littered lanes of Tuscany, the striking island of Sicily, the flamboyant streets of Rome and along the beautiful Amalfi coast. Everything about Italy appeals to me so last week I needed a light read, one that would bring me back to Siena in Tuscany and along the scintillating coast of Sardinia. La Bella Figura fitted the bill. As it was published in 2007, many of the references are outdated but I still was thoroughly entertained by the satirical nature and wit of the writing. ‘Our picture of Italy is a party. What we aspire to is gratifying chaos.’ Covering politics, transport, school, food, the beaches and everything else in between we journey over a ten-day trip from north to south and feel, albeit temporarily, part of something quite unique.

I was able to picture myself walking the streets of an Italian town/city, stopping for a coffee and people-watching as the locals entertained me with their continuous chatter, their fashionable style and their wonderful attitude to living.

La Bella Figura is a fun read, not to be taken too seriously and one that I happily immersed myself in with a nice chilled glass of Prosecco in hand!

(c) Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)
La Bella Figura: An Insiders Guide to The Italian Mind by Beppe Severgnini was published in 2007 by Hodder & Stoughton and translated by Giles Watson.
Order your copy online here.
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