Love Thursday: Making it Pretty

Italian women love their homes.

They express this love by keeping them cleaner than some hospitals and by decorating them.

Now I don’t mean like for the holidays kind of decorating, because actually, that’s not so common at least where I am. And I’m also not saying that all the southern Italian homes I’ve been in are especially warm and homey, at least for my taste. I’ve seen quite a few stark white walls, and since many of the apartments (most Italians live in flats stacked one on top of another) double as echo chambers, an overall sterile feeling isn’t uncommon either.

That said, Italians are masters of making things pretty. We know this. So while maybe some homes lack a certain lived-in feel, it’s rare to find a bare balcony or terrace. Flowers, plants, and trees are everywhere adding splashes of color to complement the lush green hills and achingly blue sea.

Other that a simple love of nature, this, in my expat opinion, has a lot to do with the bella figura, making a good impression. I have to believe that there’s some sort of logic along the lines of “If the outside of your house is brutto, it doesn’t matter how well you clean the inside.”

I don’t know if that’s true, but it goes a long way in explaining sights like this:

This isn’t an uncommon scene here in Calabria. Unfortunately, many unfinished concrete monstrosities line the SS 106 that runs along the Ionian Coast. And man are they fugly (even when they’re completed for the most part).

But that doesn’t stop Italian women from making homes out of them from the outside in, from trying to make them pretty, from showing them some love.

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

15 Beans of Wisdom to “Love Thursday: Making it Pretty”
  1. Gil

    When we toured Italy with our daughter my wife and I thought it so odd that there were so many unfinished houses in Southern Italy and Sicily. Some of the places were so old that the concrete had changed color and the wooden planks on the staging were showing signs of rotting. A friend in Naples told me that a lot of people build a little when they get some cash as they can’t get mortgages.

  2. Waspgoddess

    Perfect post for how I’m feeling today… I think I need to try and make things a bit pretty on my own outside (feeling kind of miserable and ugly in general).

    Happy Thursday 🙂

  3. Pola

    Yes, even the most poor house has some kind of decorations, a flower,… Even men who lives alone or maybe have these small shed in the fields like to have a pretty details.
    I have seen lack of details only in the students’ places.

  4. Giulia

    I know exactly what you mean. I live next door to an unfinished house and it’s just sad to stare at those bricks all the time. . What bugs me the most is how some people are so “fissata” on making sure their house is in a “bella figura” state; yet those same people will trash the streets with litter. Hey, doesn’t matter to them, as long as it’s not their house that messy!

  5. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    One of the things I loved about Rome was seeing the pretty terraces and all the gorgeous window boxes.

  6. Tabitha

    I love that people are taking pride in what they have. Well, that is how I interpreted it anyway. 🙂

    Happy Love Thursday!

  7. Tina

    Awww, I love that picture. It shows that you can ALWAYS do something to improve the outlook on things, even if it’s just something as simple as flowers in a pot.

  8. Sharon

    Bare walls and stark houses….not so hard to keep clean. I figured this out where I am. The homes are super clean and the atmosphere is Motel 6. They do like the flowers outside and that is very pretty. Do they wash the street every day? They do on my street.

  9. stacy

    I definitely think Italians as a whole have a certain flair with the details – whether it is in decorating or fashion, etc. Though I am not a fan of all white walls – was like pulling teeth with my Italian to put some color on the walls. UGH =)

  10. meredith

    Happy Love Thursday.

    I like how the effort to make something look pretty on the outside can sometimes do wonders for the inside.

  11. Cakes

    very inspiring…

  12. Anonymous

    where we live not many people take care of the outside of their houses.Flaky paint and cracked concrete is the main feature of the balconies here in Sicily. Such a shame. I personally have some flowers outside, but only becuase the house is so damn dingy and stingy on windows, hardly any light or sun and my indoor plants ALWAYS die…. vanessa

  13. Cynthia Rae

    Funny but true! No matter how ugly a house it, the yard and terrace will be clean and there will always be flowers on display!


  14. Ninotchka

    This was cool! I learned something. 🙂

  15. Bongga Mom

    (Belated) Happy Love Thursday! I love looking at your photos, you have a real eye for beauty. That unfinished concrete building reminds me of some homes in the Philippines, the people who live in it don’t think they are ugly, they are so happy they don’t live in straw huts anymore. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thanks for showing everyone there is beauty in everything.

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



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