Tesoro Irlandese e La Bella Donna Figa

Tesoro Irlandese: Day – 70 (July 19, 2021) 

There are two things that are arguably evident from my choice of blog title and the content of this first post:

1) I cannot speak Italian (yet) 

2) I have a raging, unstoppable sense of self-confidence (arroganza) that has, to this point, barrelled me through life without a moment to stop and annusare le rose. 

Most people who know me would agree (essere d’accordo) with these two things; the second perhaps with more fervour than the first, as I have slowly began to make inroads into learning l’italiano, but in my wondrous & sage sobriety, I have become more energetic than a collie dog (un cane ‘collie’) on hallucinogenics (sulgi allucinogeni). 

However, there is a third thing about my blog title (il mio titolo del mio blog) which I would like to clarify (chiarire): 

3) It has taken its inspiration from Kamin Mohammadi’s Bella Figura: How to Live, Love and Eat the Italian Wayparticularly from one dreamy character who I aspire to be: Antonella.

(If you are desperate for a book that will take you to the beauty of Florence in just a few quick page turns, I urge you to find a copy. If you aspire to become a no-nonsense belladonna who is flanked by beautiful people and a fantastic sense of style and grace, stick with me.)

But it is also greatly inspired by my abysmal attempt at speaking about the aforementioned book to a dear Italian-speaking friend, to whom I proudly announced I was reading ‘La Bella Figa.’ She told me through weeps of laughter that I had just declared myself an unabashed reader of ‘The Beautiful Pussy.’ In search for a PG-way to nod my head to this particular faux-pas, which I’m sure will not be my last, I landed on the subtitle of ‘La Bella Donna Figa’** – roughly translated as The Beautiful, Cool Woman.* This conversation took place on the Luas, a tram-like wormtrain in Dublin City Centre, as we made our way south-side to Sandyford to The Wall, where I would get my first taste of climbing. 

When satisfactorily sweaty and exhilarated from leaping up walls, I discussed my upcoming adventure (avventura) to Rome with some newly acquired athletic friends. Over the last few weeks (settimane), I have repeated these particular sentences over and over to myself like a life-affirming mantra, so to hear myself say them aloud to an audience was spell-binding:

 I am moving on October 1st to my dream city, Rome. All by my 23-year-old, nearly 24-year-old self. No family (la famiglia) or friends (gli amici), no [real] job (un [vero] lavoro), no dogs (i cani) nor lovers (gli amanti). Just me. How completely terrifying (terrificante) but also, delightful (delizioso). 

‘Rome’ by Sean MacEntee on Flickr

I talked about how I hope to live the bella figura lifestyle for one whole year before I commit to a career-path and the never-ending cycle of adult stresses. I laughed about the fortune (la fortuna) of having booked a whole year in a beautiful apartment (un appartamento) over looking a public park (un park publicco) that happened to only be a 15-minute (quindici minuti) walk from a pole dance studio (la mia passione)(Ok, so, this doesn’t actually mean pole studio, but as it turns out, the phrase ‘pole dance’ has remained as is in Italian, and at least this kind of looks a little more exciting… allora, comunque…) It is a position of complete and utter privilege, that I cannot deny (negare) and refuse to squander (sperperare)

Throughout the makings of this blog, I hope to track my progress (il mio progresso) through Italian and my fast-dunk education in Roman culture (la cultura romana). I will track the recipes (le ricette) I learn, (as Kamin does in her beautifully seductive travel book which, again, I urge you to go read it if you have not), the sights I see (le attrazioni), the people (persone) I meet and the experiences (le esperienze) I have while living away from home for the first time. 

 ‘Colosseo’ by marcuz85 on Flickr


As a veteran Classical Civilisations student, you can imagine that I have a few bucket list places I would like to see in and around the Ancient Eternal City. However, I also have a few unlikely places I would like to visit (visitare); some new, some ancient, and some very personal to me. Rome is a city I have returned (sono tornato) to again and again ever since I was eighteen (diciotto) years old. I have fallen in and out of love in this city in the space of weeks and weekends over the years. I have cried on its balconies (i balconi). I have delighted on its incredible food (il cibo incredibile). I have had forbidden embraces with ex-lovers (ex-amanti) in a hotel off the Spanish Steps, sneaky drinks on school trips near the Villa Borghese, wild nights-to-days in Termini with a man I once thought I would marry (un compleanno scandaloso) and I have even saved a girl I loved from heat stroke before the imposing and beautiful Pantheon (il pantheon). Rome has made me come alive every time I’ve visited, but always on my own terms. 

‘Pantheon’ by Nichole Brown on Flickr

This year, I hope, will be no different: more life (più vita), more tears (più piagendo), more love (più amore), more laughs (più risate). 

And with that, I guess I have said enough. 

In just over two months, I will begin my journey of a life-time. A sort of coming-home to myself; a self I envisioned over half a decade ago, have visited and flirted with over the years, but now, I come home to her (diventare uno con me stessa). To Rome. 

 Photo by Ailbhe McDonald (2015)

– Ciara O’Síoráin (chi desidera diventare la bella donna figa come gli italiani)

*As I write this very first post, I am beginning to panic about this title entirely. Should I say La Bella Donna Figata or Fresca? If fresca (English: fresh) turns out to be the correct word, I shall leave this title as is to prove the absolutely below standard level of Italian I currently hold. 


** I consulted my aforementioned Italian-speaking friend (la mia migliore amica) before publishing this blogpost. Apparently, it is neither figata or fresca. The first, figata, is to be used when complimenting someone’s new gadget, where you would say che figata! (How cool!). Fresca is to be used when describing something physically cool, like cream (la crema fresca). 
Instead, one should use figa. 
BUT BE WARNED: when used incorrectly, it could mean the difference between you calling a woman a cool/hot person or telling her she has a vagina. I’m sure that this would come as no surprise to her but it is frowned upon nonetheless. 

Italian is a tricky language. 
So far, here are my top tips: 

1) Get an Italian-speaking friend who will contextualise your cool, new words for you so that you can save face (salvare la faccia). 
2) Begin. Any word is better than none. 

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