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“She walks down the street with a swing in her step and a lift to her head. She radiates allure as if followed by a personal spotlight. She may be tall or short, slim or pneumatically curvaceous, dressed discreetly or ostentatiously—it matters not. Her gait, her composure, the very tilt of her head is an ode to grace and self-possession that makes her beautiful whatever her actual features reveal.”
This is the bella figura, the Italian concept of making every aspect of life as beautiful as it can be, that Kamin Mohammadi discovered when she escaped the London corporate media world for a year in Italy. Following the lead of her new neighbors, she soon found a happier, healthier, and more beautiful way of living.
The bella figura knows:
• That the food that you eat should give you pleasure while eating it. Pause for meals, and set a place, even if you are eating alone.
• To seize any opportunity to get moving—be it taking the stairs, doing a coffee run at work, or dancing with abandon.
• To drink a spoonful of excellent-quality extra-virgin olive oil four times a day.
• To seek out nature, be it a city park, a tree on your street, or some wild place.
• And to love yourself. The bella figura—occupies her space, emotionally and physically, with style and entitlement.
In this charming hybrid of self-help and memoir, journalist Mohammadi (The Cypress Tree) relates a journey that began 10 years ago when she left her frazzled and unfulfilling life in London for a year's sabbatical in Florence, where she planned to write a book. She quickly became enamored of the Italian way of life, which is about "making every aspect of life as beautiful as it can be" and embracing "generosity and abundance." Mohammadi conveys life lessons learned in Italy (from the health benefits of olive oil to the importance of slowing down and observing one's surroundings), alongside her progression toward self-acceptance. The book is also part travelogue Mohammadi includes vivid descriptions of the area's landmarks and attractions, like the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pubblico in nearby Siena and part romance, as Mohammadi finds herself entwined with a few of Florence's most eligible bachelors. Clueless about the culinary arts upon arrival, Mohammadi is treated to a pasta-making lesson by a charismatic plumber, and includes some favorite Italian recipes at the end of each chapter. Mohammadi captures myriad aspects of the charming Italian lifestyle, and her story's happy ending is a testament to its benefits. \n