Beauty Standards Around The World: Italy

A high emphasis on beauty has been at the heart of Italian art and culture for centuries.

By Amy Mastrine3 min read
Monica Bellucci as Malena Scordia Beauty Standards Italy

Known for its beautiful landscapes, architecture, and women, Italy is a country where people believe in presenting the best appearance at all times. 

What’s Beautiful in Italy?

Italians place a high emphasis on elegance, civility, and expressiveness. They have an appreciation for small details, and believe that the little things make for a beautiful appearance. Italians believe in looking chic no matter the occasion. In Italy, it’s not uncommon to spot people dressed up for everyday activities such as grocery shopping or riding a bike. A very passionate people, Italians are known for being artistic and cultivating luxurious aesthetics. Beauty in Italy has flourished for centuries, and Italy is home to some of the most famous art and architecture in the entire world.

While Italian beauty standards for women are somewhat similar to that of the rest of the Western world, in Italy, slender women with medium to large breasts and narrow hips are considered the most beautiful. Italians are not too fond of the “thicc” trend that’s popular in some countries. Most Italian men prefer slim women who possess a little curve and softness. 

Being Mediterranean, Italian women have very distinct characteristics that set them apart from other ethnicities. Italian women are known to have an intense gaze, olive skin, dark eyes, and dark hair. High cheekbones, a small or Roman nose, long hair, and soft lips are considered beautiful in Italy. Italians tend to like more natural faces as opposed to faces with lots of fillers and surgeries, unlike the standards in the United States. The appearance of Italian women has been described as strong, yet feminine.

Italian actress and beauty pageant winner Miriam Leone in the TV series “La Dama Velata.” 

La Bella Figura: The Italian Beauty Motto

Italians worship beauty so much that they even have a phrase to describe their standards for it: “la bella figura.” This translates to “the beautiful figure” or “beautiful behavior.” This is a phrase that describes taking special care in your appearance, but it’s also a philosophy that means to make a good impression on others, and to behave with class and grace. Congeniality is a crucial part of possessing la bella figura. For example, if an Italian woman is hosting a dinner party, she will plan the event thoughtfully and carefully, taking extra care to set the table as well as make the food delicious so that the eyes are satisfied as much as the guest’s bellies.

La bella figura is about possessing dignity, warmth, kindness, and politeness. A woman with la bella figura is confident, beautiful, and elegant in all she does. It means to exude grace without being arrogant, to be beautiful without vanity, and to be polite and well-mannered while being friendly and warm. 

The Most Beautiful Women in Italy

It’s impossible to reflect on Italian beauty standards without thinking about the most beautiful and famous women from Italy: Monica Bellucci and Sophia Loren.

Monica Bellucci tops pretty much every list of most beautiful Italian women. Monica began her career as a fashion model for Italian brand Dolce & Gabbana and Dior before she began appearing in Italian, American, and French films. Monica played Mary Magdalene in Mel Gibson's biblical drama The Passion of the Christ and Persephone in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. In the 2015 James Bond film Spectre, she was the oldest Bond girl in the history of the franchise.

Perhaps her most iconic moment is the scene in the 2000 film Malèna, in which she takes a seat to smoke a cigarette and at least 7 men hasten to offer her a lighter. It’s the perfect illustration of her powerful beauty.

Sophia Loren is an Italian actress universally recognized for her beauty. Born in Rome, Loren was one of the most popular actresses in the world in the 1960s, making her a sort of film royalty. She started appearing in beauty pageants at age 15 and became an international celebrity after she signed a 5-picture contract with Paramount Pictures. 

Sophia has a very notable and humble philosophy of beauty — she has been quoted as saying, “Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful,” and, “Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.”

Sophia Loren photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt at her Italian Villa she shared with producer husband Carlo Ponti in 1964.

Italy’s High Standards in Art, Culture, and Lifestyle

The contributions to beauty, art, and culture made by Italians throughout the centuries is hard to underestimate. Italians appreciate beauty in all aspects of their culture, not just in their women, and it shows in their architecture and artwork. Thousands of tourists visit Italian art museums, cathedrals, villas, and cities every year to take in the beauty of the country.

The famous Trevi Fountain in Rome. Photo credit: 

Italian art and architecture emphasizes craftsmanship, attention to detail, and fine artistry. The Italian Renaissance spearheaded artistic and intellectual achievement, and we’re still awed by the artwork that was created in that era. Great names in Italian art through the centuries are plentiful, including Bernini, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Giotto, Donatello, and Rafael.  

A snapshot of the beautiful marble hand in the famous “The Rape of Proserpina” statue by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” one of the most famous paintings from the Italian Renaissance.
St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, Italy.

Italian beaches, villas, and cities are frequent tourist attractions for their beauty and charm. Whimsically designed, many of the best Italian cities and towns were designed to be walkable and aesthetic.

One contribution to the world of beauty that can’t be understated is Italian fashion brands. Italy is world-famous for its extensive list of luxury fashion brands. Leading brands from Italy include huge names such as Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Valentino, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Miu Miu, and Prada. Italian fashion is opulent, classic, and vibrant.

Dolce and Gabbana’s Alta Moda fashion show, inspired by Roman history.

Closing Thoughts

One article can’t possibly do Italy the justice it deserves for its contributions to beauty. The amount of beautiful things that originated in Italy is overwhelming. The country has given the world an endless amount of beautiful things because Italian standards of beauty are extremely sophisticated, refined, and civilized. From beautiful actresses to cathedrals to coastal villas to paintings to fashion, Italy is a huge exporter of aesthetics due to their history and passion for all things beautiful.

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