Ciao Bella! (Feminine beauty, Italian-style)

Sophia Loren

What is an enchantress? An irresistibly fascinating woman, who exudes sensual, physical, emotional, and intellectual beauty—qualities that Italian women have been associated with for centuries. Who doesn’t aspire to look like, love like, become like the Italian Enchantress (Calm down Gentlemen, I’ll get to you in tomorrow’s post!)? Italy’s ancient Latin culture has always encouraged the fairer sex to devote guilt-free time to their inner and outer well-being.  Even before the Roman Empire, a long soak in a thermal bath was considered as necessary to a woman’s psyche as beautiful clothes were for her social confidence.  Amiche mie, don’t wait for permission to dedicate a bit of time each day to your inner and outer bellezza.  You are worth it!

The archetypal Italian woman is easily recognizable for her strength, beauty and intelligence; whether adorned in Versace, riding on a Vespa through Florence, or absorbing the sun’s warmth on her hands in the grain fields of Benevento. Most people envision the Italian Enchantress as a beautiful seductress, like Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, or Monica Bellucci. But in a Roman coliseum of all possible attributes responsible for the Italian woman’s allure, to think only of her obvious physical beauty is far too limiting. Her more important traits include her intellectual strides, her common sense savvy, her earthy self-possession, her gravitational pull towards self-indulgence, her spontaneous creativity, her generous affection, her purposeful self-dignity, and her ageless spirit. And of course on top of all of that–and this is no small thing to the amori in her life—The Italian Enchantress can also cook! What more what can I say?

In a national survey I once conducted entitled: “Attitudes Towards Italian Americans”, “beautiful women” was a descriptor that  often came to mind when people thought of Italian culture. But our Italian sorelle are not the only women privy to the secrets of la bellezza femminile. We are, after all of the same sangue, no? The only difference is that the courage to express our feminine gifts may have dwindled through disuse, to a mere ancestral trace memory; while Bel Paese women have historically claimed their right to nurture themselves without apology or constraint. Move over Sophia, here we come.

Ladies, your homework this week is to revive your inner and outer feminine beauty. One idea is to gather a few girlfriends together, and exchange tips for taking care of hair, body, wardrobe, face, home, intellect, and personal and spiritual strength—all traits that are important to the femininity of Italian women. Another idea is to start a  book club to read about the lives of fully actualized Italian Enchantresses; from Italy’s classic cinema beauties to extraordinary women of substance such as Rita Levi-Montalcini (Nobel prizewinner), Maria Montessori (innovative educator), Artemesia Gentileschi (Renaissance painter), Elsa Schiaparelli (inventor of the shoulder pad), Mariuccia Mandelli (Krizia designer line), Oriana Fallaci (esteemed outspoken journalist), Veronica De Laurentiis (author and actress turned activist) and many others.

If you make personal development a priority, you will experience an unveiling of the inner Italian Enchantress in YOU.

(from an article I wrote for The Italian Tribune). If you love this article, let me know by pressing “like”, “subscribe”–and as always please send the link to this blog to your friends. Mille Grazie.

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