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 students? 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!
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.