Archive for the ‘Living La Dolce Vita’ Category

La Dolce Vita Authors I love

May 16th, 2009 1 comment


If you want ideas on living the sweet life, please check out one of my favorite Italian American authors,  Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner, author of Living La Dolce Vita.

You can also find inspiration on her blog:

 Also, check out her musings on her other website:

Another Italian-American author I absolutely adore is Adriana Trigiani. Her website is

I love everything she’s ever written. When she heard I was reading her latest book at my bookclub she asked if she could call in to chat with us. It was great talking to her. When I answered the phone that night, she said, “Hey baby, how’s it going?”

What’s not to love?

They are filming a movie this summer based on her first book, Big Stone Gap, and she invited us to be extras. Not sure if we’ll make the road trip, but the offer was sweet.

Have a great weekend.

Categories: Literature, Living La Dolce Vita Tags:

Tips to achieve la bella figura

May 15th, 2009 5 comments


In my lifelong quest at achieving la bella figura ( the Italian concept that you must always look and act your best in every situation), I have accumulated some tips from different sources that I will share with you today. I have broken them down in a few different categories for simplicity.


— Only eat while seated

— Put utensils down between bites

— Take small bites. Chew thoroughly

— Stop before fully satisfied

— Eat mindfully, savoring each bite

— Only eat delicious food (I think someone once said “Eat well or not at all”)

— No snacking.

— No guilt about food. Eat exactly what you please!


— Maintain a slim armoire (see Anne Barone’s Chic and Slim books for more on this)

— Only wear what you LOVE. Only buy clothes that scream “YES” when you try them on.

— Stick to a limited palette, based on perennial fashion colors and maybe one or two signature colors you love

— Buy less. Pay more.

— Once you become of a certain age, put your money into “investment” pieces  that will last several seasons and not go out of style

Acting chicly

— Don’t swear. (After years and years working in an newsroom, this was actually a habit I had to break!)

— Have impeccable posture.

— Maintain your mystique. Keep secrets. Maintain your privacy. Don’t elaborate when you respond with a “thank you” to a compliment.

— Think before you speak and act.

— Express your passion.

— Speak less about yourself, but always have interesting tidbits to add to a conversation by keeping abreast of current issues (this may be from the fabulous book Entre Nous). Share information about books, films, recipes, school, national and community issues more than you share about yourself. (It’s so boring to talk about yourself anyway!) There is a quote my mother once told me: Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.

Living frugally and chicly

— Eliminate debt

— Only spend what you can afford

— Spend money on experiences not things

— Save for what you want

— Think long and hard before bringing something new into your house


— Study art, architecture, cuisine, clothing, literature, music, chess, film, photography, languages.

— Take time. Don’t rush or multitask

— Read voraciously

Living in the Moment

March 11th, 2008 Comments off

I can’t remember the name of the book now, it might have been Full of Grace, but this book really stuck with me. It was mainly because of how one of the characters, Isabel, was so graceful in the way she handled a recurrence of her breast cancer, but was so afraid to love again after a messy divorce. After she decides to take the plunge and opens her heart to the man in love with her, she wakes the next morning and realizes that something is missing in her life: the constant feeling of dread.


I think one of the keys to creating a la bella figura and living la dolce vita is to attempt to appreciate every moment of every day. I know this is impossible to do EVERY MINUTE, but it is something to strive toward. I think Italians have learned to savor the beautiful moments in life and that all of us should try to emulate that.

One way the Italians do this is to take time in their day to stop and enjoy a cup of coffee and good conversation. To them it is an important part of their life — these moments where they slow down — where they engage all their senses. Today I am going to try to do this more.

My book club is reading an old book, The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney, and I was inspired by a passage toward the end.


This is what the character says about her revelation:

“Ultimately, in the very grand scheme of things, it’s irrelevant whether my life lasts fifty more years, or five. Or two. The point is to live it, not wait through it. And I’m alive now — I can pick flowers, pet the dog, eat cinnamon toast. How foolish I would be to let my mortality, which has been there all along, since the second of my birth, spoil my love of these things. So I won’t. I’ll have to remind myself constant, but starting now, I intend to live until I die.”

So, today, I will take a minute to fully be in the moment and appreciate the warmth of the sun on my daughter’s silky hair as I snuggle with her and read her a book on the couch. I will savor every bite of the cookie I dip into my hot coffee. I will smile as I listen to the sweet sound of the birds chirping in my backyard. I will hug more and love more. Today.

Please do the same.

Categories: Living La Dolce Vita Tags:

Bringing Italy home

February 28th, 2008 Comments off

Somewhere along the line, after moving constantly in search of the perfect large American city to live in, I realized that it didn’t matter where I lived. What mattered was the environment and lifestyle I created wherever I was. So, although I would love to live in Europe someday, specifically Italy, I know I can embrace much of the Italian lifestyle wherever I live.

I recently re-read Frances Mayes Bringing Tuscany Home and here are some inspiring passages I copied. (I have a journal I use to record words, sentences, pages, of inspiration from what I read. I’ve read that Sophia Loren does the same).

 Here’s Mayes:

“From the beginning, we began to bring Tuscany home. Pillows. Parmigiano … Wine. Duvet covers . . . Then we began to bring home something more lasting — a mind-set, a way of being in the world.”

“We have a tribe of Italian friends … who show us by example, the pleasure of living everyday life in this bellissimo landscape. The first revelation from these friends — and the most influential — center on home and friends and the table, the focus of celebration.

“Tuscans passionately love whatever plot of terra they live on and cultivate every inch with flowers and vegetables. They thrive on their local markets … Food, in Italy, is not cult but culture.

 “In all my years in Italy, I’ve never once heard food connected to guilt. The pleasure of eating and drinking are never tortured into pyschological struggles.”

 “We have always been astonished at how easily friends in Italy seem to produce a dinner for 10. Partly that’s because Italian food is simple. Few ingredients comprise each dish and the ingredients are top quality.”

Categories: Literature, Living La Dolce Vita Tags:

What is it about those Italian women? You know the ones I’m talking about: beautiful, sexy, dressed to the nines just to take the kids to the park. They have a certain something that is indefinable. It is in the way they dress, the way they prepare their meals, the way they spend their leisure time.

It is because they know the importance of la bella figura. Roughly translated from Italian, it means putting you best foot forward in everything you do. It means cutting a beautiful figura. The opposite of la bella figura is la brutta figura, which is what someone might say about the falling down drunken guy at the party or the super tackily dressed woman at church. It means ugly figure.

La bella figura is much more than your appearance. It goes much deeper than that. It is about how you act. It is about how you treat others. It is about how you care for yourself, your home and your family. Living a life in line with la bella figura doesn’t take money. In fact, it is more about how to have class without a lot of money.

Someone who exudes la bella figura will have clean, pressed clothes and be well groomed. They will not be rude or sloppy. Their fingernails will be impeccably groomed. Their hair shiny and clean and their shoes will be polished. They will not have stray threads hanging from their suit hems. They will not be driving a car in need of the car wash.

La bella figura means driving that 15 year old car and meticulously cleaning it and caring for it. It means keeping your belongings in good repair. It means taking time to clean your house and not cluttering it up with meaningless objects.

When you focus all your spare energy, time and money on the things that bring you the most amount of pleasure, then you are truly living a life in line with la bella figura. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be Italian to do so. You just have to think like an Italian.

Italian children are raised to present la bella figura in whatever they do. From the time they are small and are groomed perfectly to attend church or school, they know that appearances count. They count because it is the first thing people judge about you. That first impression does matter. Appearances are also important because when you take the time to look nice, you are showing that you care about yourself. When you care enough to look good, it shows you have good healthy self esteem. Nothing is more attractive than self confidence.

In addition, dressing nice also shows respect for others. If you invite people over for dinner and greet them in flip flops, baggy sweats and a stained shirt, it is really disrespectful to them. The same if you dress sloppy to go to church or even to the market. By dressing nicely and being well groomed, you show respect for everyone in your world.

Having la bella figura means presenting yourself in the best light possible in all your interactions.