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Welcome to La Brutta Figura, my personal space to express all the things I love most about il bel paese! 

What can you find on La Brutta Figura?

Travel tips, musings on art, odes to food and wine and much more. Do you want to know where can you find an ‘oasis of peace and tranquility’ in Naples? Where can you drink your spritz on a boat in Venice with the locals? Where can you sleep in a pre-historic cave for a night?

La Brutta Figura aims to share places I’ve visited that are unlikely to appear in guidebooks, places I stumble upon by serendipitous accident or through recommendations from friends and locals. Here you can discover city secrets, restaurants frequented by locals where an after dinner digestif is on the house, artisans producing traditional souvenirs, and the best small villages with their local festivals and sagre.  Explore il bel paese from a new perspective, peek through the Knights of Malta keyhole and admire an Italy that is simultaneously familiar and surprising, be guided by those in the know to places most others don’t know. Follow in the footsteps of Byron and Browning and fall in love with this exquisite country.

Italy boasts terrain from snowpeaked mountains to a desert (really, it’s in Tuscany), architecture from Byzantine to thoroughly Austrian (in Trentino-Alto Adige) and nature including scorpions and flamingos. So pop a bottle of bubbly and immerse yourself in the glittering lagoon and dark alleys of Venice, or swirl a glass of Ripasso and read about the sun baked white villages and deliciously scented lemon groves of the South.

Get in touch if you want to find out more or would like some travel advice for visiting Italy!

hot springs Tuscany Saturnia

Why ‘La Brutta Figura’?

Fare la brutta figura can be roughly translated as making a bad impression. It covers everything from the way you say ‘hello’ (requires judging real age, age the person would like to seem, subtle positions of power etc.) to how much you  know (or more likely pretend to know) about wine.

Initially this blog was a way of sharing my expat story, which naturally involved daily episodes of ‘la brutta figura’, but as I got to grips with participating in local traditions (mainly alcoholic as we are in the Veneto), began to travel the length and breadth of the boot, and learnt enough Italian to feel really at home in this mad country, I decided instead that I wanted to share these cultural experiences I have and non-touristy places I visit, that come from living in Italy, not just holidaying here.

The name ‘la brutta figura’ is not irrelevant now, however, as it reminds me of how much I’ve had to re-learn in moving to a new country: language, patience, weird cultural norms, medical jargon, DRIVING, anger management when dealing with bureaucracy and atrocious transport systems, and much more. I know expats in any country in the world with agree with me in saying that we are some seriously resilient people!

What do you do?

I am a travel writer with an incurable addiction to writing about Italy. It might be one of the easiest countries to be a writer in – Italians live like they’re in poetry, theatre, ballet. Us writers just need to record what we see. I contribute to several publications where I’ve written about a wine festival on Isola del Giglio, about surprising Italian inventions, about how to live la dolce vita, and about the so-called ‘most beautiful room in the world’.

I also teach English (will they ever be able to pronounce ‘biscuit’ properly?!), attempt amateur yoga (injuries have been sustained), and have had my fear of performing beaten out of me by my Italian dance teachers who make me do shows in the main piazza in front of the Duomo.

And, of course, I love a good aperitivo, which means drinking and eating until you don’t need to eat dinner but go to a restaurant afterwards anyway.

Aperitivo at Lago d’Iseo


Susan December 9, 2017 at 4:33 am

After reading the last line in this post … The know I am in the right place.

La Brutta Figura December 11, 2017 at 8:30 am

YES! That’s why we love Italy the most 🙂

Jovina Coughlin January 31, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Thank you for following my blog. I look forward to reading yours.

La Brutta Figura January 31, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Thanks you too!

foodiesneakpeeks January 20, 2017 at 11:10 am

Thanks for liking my post “An Enchanting Getaway to Puglia …” Love Italy (who doesn’t?) and your blog as well!

La Brutta Figura January 28, 2017 at 7:58 am


Steph January 7, 2017 at 9:13 am

So glad I found your blog! I’ve been trying to learn Italian for years and was just about to give up but reading the phrase “non fare il salame” in your latest post made me laugh so much that I have to pick it up again! Can’t wait to read more 🙂

La Brutta Figura January 8, 2017 at 9:29 pm

Really glad to hear it! I am trying to shoehorn that phrase into conversations now because it is one of the best 😂 hope you continue with the Italian!

fkasara December 3, 2016 at 4:13 pm

Wow, I really loved this introduction and the quotation, congrats! I was talking about this aspect with a friend of mine and while she thinks we’re arrogant asses, I’m not SO sure about that, to be honest. I think we are very proud of our “culture” and especially the older generation tend to be stuck into the traditional mindset thinking it’s the only way to go, but I wouldn’t say we are patriotic in a political sense. Until recent times, I’ve not seen “nationalism” and people tend to say bad things about bureaucracy, politics and general organization of our country. I’ve not seen Italian people saying “Italy is the best country in the world”, quite the opposite…I always hear people saying that this country is s*it, lol. But maybe I’m wrong, it’s not easy for a native giving an impartial opinion.

I’ve read in a previous country you’re in Rovigo! I used to go to Rosolina Mare, when I was a kid, I don’t know if you’re familiar with it. I’m from the province of Vicenza 🙂

La Brutta Figura December 13, 2016 at 3:53 pm

Thanks for the comment!! Yes I agree, Italians are very proud of their culture and have every right to be! Unfortunately in politics (and also economics..) Italy is in a bad moment…perhaps best not to be proud of it 😉 I am, however, a straniera that will always have a slightly rose-tinted view of Italy, love is blind eh! Yes I live near Rovigo and I’ve been to Rosolina a couple of times. Vicenza I’ve been to once for a day and seeking the opportunity to go back, it was lovely! Where are you now?

fkasara January 18, 2017 at 11:58 pm

Sorry for the late reply! I’m from the area of the so-called “alto vicentino”. If you come to Vicenza, let me know 😉

La Brutta Figura January 19, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Will do!!

Lyn November 18, 2016 at 7:01 pm

You have put my thoughts into your beautiful words about Italy. Nice

La Brutta Figura November 18, 2016 at 10:27 pm

thank you!

Stacy di Anna Pollard October 27, 2016 at 1:48 pm

Looking forward to following along!

La Brutta Figura October 27, 2016 at 1:50 pm


sault79 September 8, 2016 at 11:21 am

Hi there,

This is Saul at GPSmyCity, a publisher of travel apps on iTunes App Store and Google Play. I want to ask if you would be interested in turning some of your blog posts into mobile apps and sell them on iTunes App Store and Google Play. GPSmyCity has developed a technology for making it possible. There is no cost to you – we work with blogger on a revenue share basis.

If you wish to learn more about this opportunity, please reply to my email sault[at]gpsmycity[dot]com so I will send you additional information.

Saul Tarasoff

Joyce K August 25, 2016 at 1:14 am


My name is Joyce, I am a marketing executive at expatfinder.com which is a leading expat information and services website.

I saw on your blog that you are and expat. I wish to interview you to further share some of your tips. The questions are mainly about the housing, the daily life etc.
It just takes 5 minutes (or more depending if you have lots to say 🙂
Of course, if you accept we can add a link to your blog or some of your website. 
If you are interested to participate at this project, please send me an email at interview@expatfinder.com.

fromdreamtoplan July 27, 2016 at 8:25 pm

Ciao Happy to have found your blog! I love the layout, the style the content…everything! I’ve read some of your posts and I can’t wait to read more! Looking forward to following you 🙂

Where do you live in Veneto? I’m from Padova! 🙂

Lisa | http://www.fromdreamtoplan.net/

La Brutta Figura August 3, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Hey sorry I didn’t see this before, for some reason it went straight to spam! Thanks for your comment, I’ve been enjoying your blog very much too 🙂 I live near to Rovigo, so not far from Padova! I’ll send you a message next time I visit, I love going shopping there 🙂

fromdreamtoplan August 4, 2016 at 2:41 pm

No problem! Ahhh great to hear that! Yes definitely! Thank you, I’m glad you like it 🙂

Michael Doran May 23, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Greetings. You summed up Italy very well. I visited that charming country once and fell in love with her. Also visited Croatia a couple years ago…very similar to Italy. Keep exploring and sharing. Caio

La Brutta Figura May 23, 2016 at 3:15 pm

Grazie mille! It’s easy to fall in love isn’t it! Croatia too is lovely. Thanks for your comment, I hope you can return to Italy.

Brad Nixon May 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Thanks very much for visiting Under Western Skies. I’ve seen a bit of the Veneto beyond Venice: Treviso, Vittorio Veneto (the home of my partner’s immigrant grandfather), and then farther north to Cortina and Bolzano. I look forward to reading more about your explorations.

La Brutta Figura May 19, 2016 at 7:24 pm

Thanks! Next month I’m going to near cortina, I really like that area. I’ve not actually heard of vittorio Veneto but I will investigate…!

Brad Nixon May 19, 2016 at 11:04 pm

And, I forgot to mention what a brilliant name “La Brutta Figura” is. Wish I’d thought of it.

La Brutta Figura May 20, 2016 at 7:19 am

Grazie! 🙂 I think it quite accurately sums up expats’ experiences in Italy…

MrsKingLifestyle May 14, 2016 at 8:11 am

Your life in Italy sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I look forward to reading more.

La Brutta Figura May 14, 2016 at 8:15 am

Grazie!! I hope to have more experiences if it will just stop raining for a minute…!

Tanja May 6, 2016 at 8:33 am

sounds great! Keep enjoying Italy!:)

La Brutta Figura May 6, 2016 at 8:43 am

Thank you!!


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