cover image Bella Figura: How to Live, Love, and Eat the Italian Way

Bella Figura: How to Live, Love, and Eat the Italian Way

Kamin Mohammadi. Knopf, $26.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-35401-1

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. [em](May) [/em]