Yes, bella figura is Italian, and, yes, it means (more or less) beautiful figure, but it's so much more than that.
It's the idea that it's not so much what you do, it's how you appear to be that matters. In Italy the idea of bella figura might extend to what you eat and when you eat it, or to how you wrap a gift, or to your latest social media photo.
It's all to do with keeping up appearances.
In Britain we have a famously scruffy Prime Minister, and traditionally the British rather distrust someone (especially a man) who is too well turned-out. But in Italy presentation is vital: to some extent the well-crafted promise is more important than actually carrying it out (I fear that this may be a sign of many decades or centuries of disappointment).
With bella figura, it is said, you can build a whole career without ever having to do anything.
And, I don't know, there are many worse things a person can achieve than nothing, aren't there?
Words To Consider Today: bella figura. Bella means beautiful in Latin. Figura comes from the Latin figūra, a shape, from fingere, to mould.