Contrast | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

This is my native city Bari, in Puglia Italy with some of its contrasts.
Teatro Petruzzelli, the third largest Opera House in Italy began when Onofrio and Antonio Petruzzelli, traders and ship builders of Trieste presented the designs for the theatre drawn up by their brother-in-law, the engineer Angelo Bari Cicciomessere. The proposal for building the Petruzzelli was accepted and on 29 January 1896, a contract was signed between the family and the city administration. Two years later, in October 1898, work began and it ended in 1903 at the birth of the Golden Age. Now the theatre stands very proud of its heritage.

If I look up, the terracotta color always contrasts with the blue sky. Here, in this geographically favored part of Italy,the four winds brush away any resemblance of clouds. Summers are very hot and winters very mild. If I look at the façade the white statues, lions and corbels are the sentinels guarding this treasure of a theatre, vividly contrasting with the terracotta color of the building. If I look at both sides of the theatre, the geometry of triangle windows with pediments in the surrounding buildings contrasts with the roundness of the theatre’s dome and the classical design of the fountain. This is geometry in order!

The Petruzzelli is located in the new part of the city, the Murat centre. The district takes the name after the flamboyant Joachim Murat, surnamed the “Dandy King” (Brother-in-law and Marshal of Napoleon Bonaparte). During his rule as head of the Kingdom of Naples, he opened and maintained, the construction of the new area near the ancient medieval city of Bari. The neoclassic style architecture of the new center city is a busy coastal city, chaotic and most vital centre for commerce and trades. Like every modern cities the Murat centre has a bustling energy, thriving with new activities and constant ferment.

Going further in the newest part of the city, architecture changes dramatically to modern and taller buildings in the Mediterranean style architecture, some more colorful than others, balconies with closed glass verandas, flowers hanging off windows and people stacked in large apartments on top of each other.

The contrast between the new part of the city and old part “Bari Vecchia” is evident the moment one walks on old stone flooring, through archways and alleyways. One gets to image who the laundry hanging over the streets belongs to and admires the skillful women outside their homes making orecchiette pasta by hand, typical product of Bari. The old part of Bari is anchored to deep traditions. Here, saints protect the food made by hands in the traditional way, and protect the families making them.

The best focaccia in town is at Panificio Fiore, where the gentile owner keeps his treasures of ancient artifacts, nautical themes, saints and figurines all behind a modern counter. He smiles at tourists when they get the first bite of his warm just out of the brick oven focaccia, he knows they are in seventh heaven!

In the old part of Bari neighbors sit in the streets and visit with each other. Networking here started in the Medieval Age. This is to me a beautiful contrast with the modern time and the modern city, where people stay closed in and often don’t know who lives next door.

The latest contrast I find very strange is that the Orthodox mass is now performed down in the beautiful Byzantine crypt of  Saint Nicholas Basilica, a Roman Catholic Church since the year 1100th. The mass is mainly frequented by Russians emigrated to Italy. Ciao,

Copyright © 2014 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValHatCelesteStampI am writing a travel diary of my last trip to Puglia with an American group and sharing with all of you my notes of feelings, observations, food-wine tasting and experiences that have changed the life of people traveling with me. The trips I organize are made for people who want to live it up in Puglia! Check out my books on


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