A quaint citadel of arts, food, shopping and entertainment will be born soon in San Jose, California. It is the Little Italy, a brainchild of a variegated Italian visionaries who want to keep alive the Italian culture and its heritage. Some of them were born in the US from Italian immigrants of last century and some are natives of Italy and are the new expatriates of the current century. The Little Italy’s vision unites them in a unique way.
The future Little Italy in San Jose is a promise of the typical Italian “Dolce Vita” and “Dolce Far Niente” translated into “a sweet do nothing”. I envision the streets lined with colorful building where artisans, designers and creative people are at work in their studios and fabrications shops. The artists share the streets with elegant Italian fashion shops, characteristic Italian restaurants, bistro permeated with coffee aroma, music shops, theatre shows and cabaret for the lovers of plays.
The new Little Italy is the cozy and “intimate living room of San Jose”. People of all nationalities will meet in quaint café, restaurants and outdoor rooms, to conduct business, socialize, to see and be seen and mingle in a romantic Bohemian atmosphere.
The new Little Italy is the gateway connecting the past Italy known to Italian immigrants and the new modern, contemporary Italy. Visitors will connect with the rich Italian culture, get familiar with the Italian philosophy of life and support the shops.
Three contemporary arches placed at three strategic points of entry will symbolize the gateway of Italian generations. White Carrara Marble stripes and Grey Cardoso Stone stripes to echo the Baptistery of Florence will cover the basis of the arch’s pillars. Red bricks will cover the top part of the pillars ending in a steel arch with LED side lights. We wanted to achieve a classical and yet modern look with a jewel tone finish.
Picture on left represents the arch concept drawing and the picture below represents the same drawing overimposed on a current street.
A few small piazzas, connecting the shopping areas with the Guadalupe Park and River will be the heart of the community, each designed with a whimsical character, vignettes, courtyards, views and passageways leading into the next piazza.
Colorful buildings in the Mediterranean color palette will fill all exterior positive spaces with interesting architectural details and decorative building façades. These buildings will mark each commercial activity.
Stone benches placed under trees and near fragrant plants will serve as cooling areas with the aid of fountains and water sources. An intelligent game of lights will create silhouettes and moon lights over sculptures made by Italian artists. Light is life, as I often say to my clients.
An attractive lighting game will attract people who will want to linger, enjoy the area and spend money.
The piazzas will serve the purpose of recreating outdoor rooms where visitors can sit comfortably and enjoy a gelato, read a book, or simply look at people strolling at leisurely. That’s why at the beginning I called it the “intimate living room of San Jose”.
The Guadalupe River cleaned up and made navigable with romantic gondola rides can be a revitalizer for the soul and a window to dream the distant Venice.
The Little Italy’s vision as described in this article is my personal vision. My hope and I believe to interpret the hopes of the Italian group working on this project is to reunite enough people who will see the same beauty I see and will be willing to build it.
The Little Italy section of the downtown San Jose will increase San Jose’s visibility and bring prosperity to the city. It will be a destination point for everybody and a place of attraction for the residents of the city itself as well as foreign and national tourists. The preservation of the Italian culture will add a proud element to the city.
Please forward this article to anyone you think might be interested in the Little Italy project. Love to hear your comments in the box below. Arrivederci!
Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola is an interior designer in business since 1990 and a former fashion designer. Through her career, she has worked in Italy and USA developing residential and commercial projects. Valentina is a native of Bari, the largest city in the region of Puglia, Italy. Being Italian born and raised, her design work has been influenced by Classicism and stylish, timeless designs. She will infuse your everyday living space with a certain luxury without taking away a comfort and functionality to suit every occupant of the house. In restaurant projects she designed in Italy, her concern was to ensure a pleasant environment for those who were going to spend money in each establishment. Check out her books on: