After reading Bella Figura, I prepared myself a dinner of pasta with olive oil and fresh basil. Kamin Mohammadi’s book will make you want to drop everything, move to Florence and live life la bella figura, just as she had. She paints such an absolutely breathtaking picture of the city and the lifestyle she had while living there that you simply can’t help but wish you were living this life right along with her.
According to Luigo, the bartender Kamin befriends in Florence, ‘bella figura’ simply means making everything look as nice as possible. So even if you’re making dinner only for yourself, treat yourself to some linen napkins and a glass of quality wine. Even if you’re only going to the grocery store, put on a beautiful dress and some lipstick. Even if you live alone, surround yourself with beautiful furniture and keep your apartment tidy. Living with a ‘bella figura’ mindset means living beautifully for no one else but yourself.
Mohammadi sets the stage for her book by talking about her lifestyle in London, which sounds pretty dreary and feels depressingly familiar. Work, walk fast to get to where you need to be, get coffee on the go, and so on. Mohammadi writes about how she goes on one fad diet and workout plan after another, and yet still manages to gain weight and get acne.
When she loses her job, she decides to move to Florence for a year to work on a book. I’m sure the reality of having to live off savings for so long isn’t as idyllic as this book makes it sound, but overall, I think she receives some really good advice that we’d do well to keep in mind even while in our real lives. Some examples include:
- Walk slow. Why be always in a hurry?
- Don’t take your coffee to go. Actually sit down in the cafe and enjoy your cup.
- Buy best quality olive oil, even if that means you can only afford a smaller bottle.
Mohammadi closes her book with a list of such advice, and oddly enough, the list feels a bit reductive. I think so much of the experience of reading this book comes from taking the journey along with Mohammadi, and cannot be distilled into a bullet point list.
Mohammadi also talks about the men she dates in Italy. I love the man she eventually ends up with, and while some of the men she dated broke her heart, they still made for interesting stories, and all added to her experiences of the place.
Bella Figura is such a beautiful, wonderful book. I highly recommend for anyone looking for a break from the bustle of urban professional life. Mohammadi also includes some truly delicious sounding recipes in the book, so I’d recommend trying them out for yourself.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.