Hanging It In The Sun | Valentina Cirasola | Author & Designer

Growing up in Italy in my Italian family, I had to learn to do things in a certain way. We were respectful of the environment due to lack of space and lack of technology, hence we reused and recycled many items, other than using our hands to do the work of appliances and machines we didn’t have. We also learned to use our hands to make things, clothes, food, and items for the house. Depleting the environment was not a common notion back then and I am not talking about the Dark Ages either, it was just the way of life.

The building I lived as a child was a circular shape, with an atrium open to the sky as the main entrance to the building, closed with a heavy iron door that needed 2 people to close it and a terrace on the top of the building. People leaving there used the atrium to socialize, eat together especially on Sundays, gossip, playing cards, help each other in case of necessity, kids played safely indoor and breathed fresh air. It felt almost like the film “Rear Window” with James Stewart and Grace Kelly. The terrace was the place for hanging laundry, for drying food or making preserved food and sauces to keep for the winter.

 

Laundry

Laundry

Laundry time was really fun for the kids, a lot less for women doing the laundry. Did you know that in the ’60s when in America women already used the washing machine in the comfort of their laundry room, in Italy part of the country was still washing clothes with the ashes from burned wood? The process of ashes filtration happened through a simple white cloth with the aid of boiling water to extract the sodium carbonates present in the ash. This operation was practiced up to the ’60s to wash and whiten the laundry, also to peel legumes. It was hard work for the women who did it at least once a week.

Kids didn’t have the chore of the laundry, we watched the juicy romance that was taking place between the sheets hanging in the sun. In Italy love is everywhere, it’s just the air of the country that makes anyone fall in love. We played kids’ game on the terrace, but when the laundry was up drying, we mostly enjoyed watching grown-up lovers and teenagers at their first love experience making out between the sheets hanging in the sun. They used them as a shield to hide, smooch, kiss and talk romance. Sometimes we received a few cents to keep an eye at the door of the terrace and prevent anyone unwanted from coming in. The memory of the terrace is still grant. Some of us girls got the first kiss between the sheets on the terrace.

Laundry

Laundry

Today, I have a washing machine, I always had one, and no, I have not washed my laundry with ashes, but I never had a dryer in my entire life. I like my laundry to smell fresh as nature without the chemical of softener. Drying laundry in the air is bucolic and saves electricity. I keep it away from direct sunlight to avoid discoloration and not to get it as dry as Norwegian stockfish. However, I am a big believer in recycling or reusing and I teach others to do the same. One cannot possibly understand how much I recycle. Yes, I do have time to do manual things, it’s all about priority and how one organizes life.

Picture the plastic bags we get free at a grocery shop to put our vegetables in. I wash and reuse them.
I use soap and loofah for bath and shower, no bubble bath in plastic bottles.
To clean bath and kitchen fixtures, I use a lot of lemons from my tree, vinegar and newspaper to clean windows.
In my studio, I reuse the other side of the paper already written on one side.
I use a limited amount of home cleaning agents, one for the floor, one for the dishes and one for the clothes.
Never buy food in cardboard boxes or canned, nor drinks in plastic bottles.
I don’t eat or drink in plastic vessels. I use ceramic and glass, when they break, I use them as decorative items in the garden.
This list is only the beginning of things I don’t do. It is part of my cultural heritage and beliefs I grew up with that followed me everywhere I went in the world.
Being environmentally clean is my goal in my life and in my designs.

If you want to become an environmentally conscious person start in your home, there are a lot of opportunities to start a clean life. I can help as well if you need it. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2019 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

Valentina Cirasola is a storyteller by nature. Stories are very important to her design career to convey ideas because making someone’s home or personal images is not only about building around shapes, lines, forms, and colors. It is about the story one can create around their spaces and how they want to appear to others. She is the author of four books, all available on

Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
The latest book just published is The Road To Top Of The World – https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8

An Organized Life Starts With Food | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Sunday is a day for rest and self-care, dedicated to the family if there is one, and seeing or call friends. My Sunday starts with video calls with my family in Italy and friends in the world. In the midst of my Sunday relaxation practice, I include exercise and food planning for the entire week. Although it is pleasant at times to go out to eat, be served and get to know international food, I hardly eat in restaurants for a variety of reasons, the most important one is that I cannot control my fat, salt, and sugar intake. Some restaurants totally corrupt ethnic food to cater to the American palate, e.g. making pasta soft and not “al dente” as Italian would eat it, just to give you a small example. Ethnic restaurants only make food that is commercially well-known. In the case of Italian food, restaurants make the usual lasagna, veal parmigiana, spaghetti meatballs and leave out an entire selection of interesting food in the Italian cuisine repertoire. I eat so much better in my home, I see no point going out to eat and this is the same for any type of restaurants, not just Italian. I have noticed the same trend in other ethnic restaurants, the food is never as good as it would be in the original homeland country.

Weekly menu – On Sunday, I make the list of the weekly menu and I stick to it. I buy fresh food once or twice a week and never have frozen food to rely on. On Sunday, I cook a few specialties for the week that can stay in the fridge for two-three days, the rest will be cooked as the week progresses. Some Sundays are devoting to making bread and pasta varieties, the only type of food I keep in my freezer.

(Click on each photo to view it larger)

Pens-Book-Lemons

Pens-Book-Lemons by ©Valentina Cirasola

Make cooking a fun moment – Cooking is not beneath me, it’s not a chore and I consider it a relaxing activity. I put my favorite music on, or my favorite TV program, pour me a glass of wine or prosecco and fly around food like a dragonfly, happy to extract the best out of raw food, just like a dragonfly sucks the sweetness out of the flowers. In the kitchen, I am the orchestra maestro composing “allegro” food and making sure the “alti e bassi” chromatic colors mix well with all the flavors. Leaving this beautiful creativity to restaurants and prepackaged food is like giving up the power of being healthy and allow someone else to decide for you. Cooking simple, colorful and satisfying meals daily is not that hard. Use a lot of colorful food, the eyes thrive on colors.
Clean up the kitchen as you go along, make it a new clean canvas for the next day.

Eating In the Rainbow Board by ©Valentina Cirasola

Eating In the Rainbow Board by ©Valentina Cirasola

 

Organized shopping – As a designer, I create people’s spaces, by doing that their lives get organized and the quality improves. However, my abilities go beyond designing. Just like everybody else, I have a hectic life, but the food is my first priority. Knowing how to organize our life is important to eliminate stress. Between my appointments, I run errands and shop for food wherever I am. I look for small grocery shops, family-owned stores or street markets near or around my client’s places and shop for food in the hole of time I have on my agenda. We cannot manage time, time will run no matter what we do, but we can manage activities, that is exactly what I do and teach others. If something in the list was forgotten, it was not important for that day, don’t stress.

Don’t skip meals – At dinner time, I have always something ready, that feeling of coming home with hunger in my eyes and raid the refrigerator is not a feeling I know. Never skip meals due to lack of time. If there is no time to take care of your food and health, what is there time for? Our stomach requires attention, it is the center of all happenings in the brain and heart. Most people think cooking is a waste of time, I can assure you, often, I make a four-course meal in forty-five minutes. It all depends on what kind of nutrition one wants to follow, mine is simple, nothing I eat requires a lot of ingredients, an army of cooks, nor a great expenditure of time.

Organize your eating – I knew a person who ate every second of the day, she never ate a real dinner, only raw food, vegetable, fruit, nuts, and chocolate. She drank a ton of water daily, went to the bathroom and ruminated constantly.
Good digestion needs peace and quiet to process the food we ingest. Eating in the car while driving, eating in the street while walking, eating at the computer while working, eating at all hours of the day even in the middle of the night will not do anything good for the digestive tract, only will add stress to it, hence burning, reflux, bloating and more stomach ailments will happen.
I don’t care if you eat at a well-decorated table, or on the floor, decide where your eating will happen and do it in a relaxing way. Eating is a fun necessity, make it a pleasurable and colorful moment, even if it is for a short thirty minutes.

This photo below shows an easy specialty I eat often: boiled potatoes filled with baked mushrooms and raw cabbage strips as a salad.
It takes about 30 minutes to make it.
Bake at 375° F the mushrooms chopped in small pieces and seasoned with olive oil, S&P, parsley, and 2-3 cloves of garlic.
Boil the potatoes with the skin. Peel as soon as they become manageable. Scoop the center out. The center of the potatoes will be used for a frittata.
Fill the center with the baked mushrooms, add grated cheese, if you like.
For color and extra fibers, add strips of red cabbage, raw, seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil, S&P.

Boiled potatoes filled with mushroom and cabbage salad

Boiled potatoes filled with mushroom and cabbage salad

 

An organized life starts with food, all your organs will thank you, your family will be healthy and energy will be high. Eat food for pleasure, indulge in a glass of wine, go ahead, have a chocolate bonbon if you have the desire, one, not the entire box, be moderate all the time and snack on nuts if you must. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2019 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

Valentina Cirasola is the designer who cooks. She has a deep interest in food that led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition, well-being and learning food of the world. She wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine and one book on color theory, in which she included one recipe for each color. Robert Taitano, a friend and business associate of http://www.wine-fi.com says:
“Valentina – an International Professional Interior Designer is now giving you an opportunity to redesign your palate”. Get your copy of Valentina’s books on
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
Valentina’s fourth book is a travel narrative, in which she mentioned food in her travel experience
https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8  

 

 

Tackling Life At Tea Time | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

“This year has started so fast and so busy and nothing is coming through” ~ she told me in front of a cup of tea and morsels at Tea Time. I know my friend very well, she skips and jumps from one activity to another, one life mess to another, from one toxic situation to another. She is not happy about some of her friends, her work, some of the things her grown-up kids do and who knows what else. She doesn’t keep her promises, makes appointments, then cancels them, often a few hours before when the other person can’t do anything about it and the worst thing…she doesn’t learn from her mistakes. They say that true friends never hold back when helping one another trying to resolve personal issues. Well, when I have done that, my friends have taken it the wrong way, got offended and even stopped seeing me. This time, at Tea Time, I wanted to lay it out as I felt it.  After all, outside was grey and rainy, inside the tea atmosphere was cozy and conducive to confessions.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

Tea Time

Tea Time

I can’t help referring to my interior design profession when I give tips on life management. Life to me is exactly like decorating a house, it’s all about rearranging, organizing, editing, refurbishing, prioritizing and spice it up. Giving my friend examples of how to beautify a house, didn’t feel I was preaching to her. I don’t have a perfect life, nobody does, but to get my life to the point it feels comfortable to me, took many years of studying people, eliminating toxic situations and old beliefs, reaching goals and driving my thinking toward positivity.

My suggestion was to view her life as a home decorating. If we don’t clean the house, things keep accumulating, the clutter grows, the mirrors don’t shine, the cabinets are sticky, the bed is not made, the dishes are dirty in the sink, we allow the house to take over our life, we allow the house to confuse us, and at that point we might even feel not to return home anymore. Unfortunately, some people life is just like this description, they don’t even want to be in it. The only thing to do to save a disorderly life is to tackle one problem at a time, just as a decorator would tackle one room at the time.

First, we focus on eliminating all the useless items, then clean the space to make it livable and finally organize it. Once we see a place that breathes again, we feel encouraged to go to the next room and repeat the process. Little by little, the house returns to shine releasing that pleasure of claiming each room as our space that was long denied.
Do you see the analogy of a life that is not satisfying with a disorderly house?

Inspiration by Valentina

Inspiration by Valentina

My friend needs exactly this. She needs to rearrange her thoughts, clean up her beliefs, make plans with a calendar in her hands, eliminate all the people and situations that are longer serving a purpose and pursue whatever strikes her fancy. Those who will want to be in her life will follow, the rest will get lost in the editing process.
At one point during our conversation, I had the feeling she got offended. Next day, she sent me a message saying I am a Goddess. Yeah, right!

Living a satisfying life takes a lot of commitment, structure, and diligence. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com 

In my 29th years of design business, I am having more fun than ever, experience eliminates stress and dictates the pace of work. I am evolving in different directions while still helping people realizing their dream spaces in homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. Colors are the main focus of my business today, changing people’s energy and life force just by introducing them to colors they would have never imagined. I am on TV once a month, that is my own TV show produced under my label Valentina Design Universe, bringing fun topics to my audience. https://valentinadesignuniverse.com
Check out my books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/qNxXrB
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

My latest book is ©The Road To Top Of The World

 

 

 

The Dream I Am Still Dreaming | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

They say if you don’t put your dreams out there in the Universe, and shout out clearly what you want, it will not happen. I know for experience that a dream without action it’s only a daydream. In my life, I have realized all of my dreams just because of the actions I took, except for one dream. It hasn’t come true yet, it is still hanging in my head and I see it with my eye open.

The dream is about my desire to open an art school community where teachers can rent a space to teach their arts, whatever it might be, a community where experts, teachers, speakers, and inspirational people unleash their knowledge, train new minds and leave their legacy. It is a community of people young and young at heart who want to create and live in beauty. I envision theatre art, visual art, painting, music, fabric art, glasses, sculpting, modeling, writing, fashion design, interior, robotic, flowers design, design with new and old material, the list is infinite. The building I need to host all the activities is a large antique home or an industrial building, with many floors, a courtyard with fountains for relaxation, for thinking in seclusion, or for meeting people in the fresh air surrounded by odorous plants and flowers. I want a space to have wines, food, and music always available.

I found a similar image of how the building in my head should look like. The street is colorful, surrounding buildings are old or historical, they are mostly made of stones and a lot of trees line the streets. I would like it to lead to the Sea because it is easy for me to think of opening the windows and smell the salty Sea.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

Jeff-Frenette-635409-unsplash

Jeff-Frenette-635409-unsplash

I see a pristine interior of the old house in my head, tastefully decorated and peaceful for all the artists who will be creating their art there.

 

Michael-D-Beckwith-1061006-unsplash

Michael-D-Beckwith-1061006-unsplash

In my head, I see a lot happening in my art community building: fashion shows, photo shooting, filming, art exhibitions, theatre representations, musicals, I see artists growing and only happy people. I see no restrictions in learning and teaching (everything will be permissible within the legality), my art community is a free world.
The bottom area at the street level is a selling point, where artists can sell all they produce and the very last top of the building is my home with a breathtaking view. I will sit on the throne of the arts and feel as if I am the “Grand Pubah of the Universe”.

I know exactly how to make a profit and turn my art community into a super desirable business, a bit like the “Montessori” of the arts. I will not discuss the business terms now. My intention is to write and express out loud what I want for my future. Yes, it is an ambitious dream! Are you listening Universe?

 

Cliff-Johnson-20686-unsplash

Cliff-Johnson-20686-unsplash

Below, my byline says I am a storyteller and I am, but this piece I wrote is my burning desire. What is your biggest dream and is it achievable? Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2019 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is a storyteller by nature. Stories are very important to her design career to convey ideas because making someone’s home or personal images is not only about building around shapes, lines, forms, and colors. It is about the story one can create around their spaces and how they want to appear to others. She is the author of four books, all available on
Amazon – http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
The latest book just published is The Road To Top Of The World – https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8

 

Letter To The Parents | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Certain gestures are like fleeting moments to which we pay little attention, but the memory of them is sculpted forever in our mind.
I was enjoying a tasteful Christmas dinner when in a small moment I had a vision of a custom of my childhood, which repeated every year until I was 10 years old: the Christmas letter to the parents.
It was a letter all the pupils in elementary schools wrote for their parents in class with the aid of the teacher. Everyone wrote his/her thoughts, just one-page or a paragraph that expresses all the gratitude to the parents for raising us the best they could. Some letters were funny and comics and some others were very serious, they followed the kid’s character and personality. The teacher only corrected each letter and had no part in composing it, basically, we forced ourselves to find something good to write that made us look good with our parents.
In this letter addressed to both parents, we promised not to do the bad things we did during the year (often it was an empty promise, we forgot it as soon as the holidays passed), we promised to bring home good grades and keep the parents happy with good behavior. Mainly we praised them for all the good things they did for us, and we thanked them every five words.

Both parents knew about the letter but acted as if it was a surprise. Here, I recreated the table in the simplicity of the era: two plates, two glasses, and the necessary dinnerware, no Christmas decorations on the table, nothing spectacular, not even close to how we decorate holiday tables today. It was an essential table, real food and conversation took all our attention.


Letterina

The letter was hidden under the father’s set of plates. After the first course, generally, a pasta dish, one of the women in the family removed that plate and pushed the letter out to make it more visible. The father accidentally pretended to see the letter and with a surprised voice exclaimed: “It’s Christmas and the postman came!” Then, he checked whose signature was and invited the author of the letter to come closer to him to read the letter out loud. Followed applauses and compliments from the members of the family sitting at the dinner table. In richer families, the kid who wrote the letter received some sort of gift or money, in less rich families, the kid received lots of kisses and hugs.

I have not had this vision in my life before this past Christmas. The scene was so vivid, real and all the people in it, now gone from this world, appeared the same, immortalized to the time I was ten years old.
It was my film, nobody saw it, I had slid through time, it felt like I had stopped there for a long time, but it was a brief moment and I was happy. A voice in my house brought me back to reality: “Can I take your plate and are you ready for the second course?”
Has this ever happened to you? Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola is a storyteller by nature. Stories are very important to her design career to convey ideas because making someone’s home or personal images is not only about building around shapes, lines, forms, and colors. It is about the story one can create around their spaces and how they want to appear to others. She is the author of four books, all available on
Amazon – http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
The latest book just published is The Road To Top Of The World – https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8

One Day In Albuquerque | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

I arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico on a Friday of last year for a speaking engagement the following Monday.  I arrived earlier to be a tourist, get to know the area, take some photos, do some shopping and discover food. Discovering food in the world is my original thing to do when I go to new places, I want to know how and what people eat.
I discovered a cozy coffee shop where I could get my Italian style espresso coffee every morning for the time I planned to stay in Albuquerque. The day for me doesn’t start unless I have a couple of shots of electricity from the espresso. The coffee shop was next to an original French bistro and I thought it was well planned. In one establishment I would take espresso, in the other, I would have a nice French crêpe breakfast.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

(Above: Le Troquet – French Bistro – Photo: Debbie H.)

Albuquerque is a quiet town, not crowded even on working days, I admired the silence and totally enjoyed the colorful mural on city walls. Weekends are even quieter, not much goes on downtown, but something funny happened on that Saturday. On the opposite corner from the coffee shop, I noticed a white Gothic Revival architecture, a bit odd building to find propped there among the heavy South-Western style architecture. It is very white and stands out among all the brown and terracotta buildings. It is the Occidental Life Building, a historic 1924 office building. In that quadrilateral between the coffee shop and the odd white building, I noticed women in the streets wearing black burqa and men wearing either turbans or Keffiyeh. In the French bistro, some men were hanging pictures of the Ayatollah. This was so odd and very weird, but I kept minding my business.

(Photo Wikimedia by Camerafiend)

Something funny happened on that Sunday. I left my hotel and directed myself to the cafe’, but only a few steps away from the Occidental Life Building, I saw men in military uniforms with machine guns in their hands, the streets filled with a lot of women wearing a burqa, more men in turbans and streets blocked by militaries. I was so scared, I thought a coup d’état had happened overnight. Frantically, I took my iPhone, searched on Google and nothing, I searched on Facebook and nothing, I checked most of the news and no mention of war, no coup d’état, nor a military operation. Timidly, I approached one of the militaries to ask what was going on… I never have drawn such a deep sigh of relief like that moment. All those people in costumes were actors filming one of the TV episodes of The Brave, a show never knew existed.


(Tobias and Marcos – Actors)

I was told that the landscape of New Mexico and especially Albuquerque is so generic that makes a good place to film any subject. Hollywood, in fact, has had a good presence there for many films through decades and still continues.

I had never heard or seen The Brave TV series, I was curious to learn about it, and perhaps see in action my two new friends, Tobias and Marcos the extras in the film. I watched it a couple of times and soon forgot about it. The series is too violent for my taste, but the picture with my friends in military clothes remains a good memory. 

I can still remember how I felt that day, the sun was high in the sky but my heart was very dark, I felt the agitation inside of me, I feared to lose my freedom, I felt helpless, I felt trapped, I was restless for three-four days after this episode and a year later, I am still talking about it, I will never forget it. Often, we take for granted what we have, our freedom has no price, let’s keep it that way.
This post is dedicated to my friend #TeaganGeneviene https://teagansbooks.com  who is trying to relocate to New Mexico, maybe she will find some movie set to write about it. Ciao,
Valentina
www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

Valentina Cirasola is a storyteller by nature. Stories are very important to her design career to convey ideas because making someone’s home or personal images is not only about building around shapes, lines, forms, and colors. It is about the story one can create around their spaces and how they want to appear to others. She is the author of four books, all available on
Amazon – http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
The latest book just published is The Road To Top Of The World – https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8

 

 

Ready For Tonight | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

Halloween night tonight. I will make it fun, I am already dressed in my costume and doing the daily work activities.
I must admit that coming from a different country, I never understood this custom of going house to house asking for candies, wearing a “scary” costume. I will receive a herd of kids at my door tonight, some of them are not kids anymore, with a white sheet hanging from the head and two holes for the eyes, they mix with little kids and do what they do, but their height gives them away, they are teenagers or even young adults. I can’t hide the feeling of being skeptical of their intentions or even a bit scared.

A long time ago, when I was still new in this country, I wasn’t yet familiar with all customs and traditions. I noticed all the houses decorated with tombstones, skeletons, and gruesome things, but I didn’t pay much attention. The evening of Halloween, as I passed one of the homes, a tombstone opened up, a real looking dead person came out, a macabre music started and flickering purple, yellow, green lights got turned on. To say I was scared is very simplistic. I turned the car around and went to sleep at a hotel.


In my neighborhood, there are no kids. One year, they came by the busload from surrounding towns and were dropped off at each block. That was surreal!

Anyway, my candies are ready, I am too, and will make it a pleasant night. I will open my doors as a Renaissance woman of the 1300s. I think the costume fits well with my character and spirit.


I will make this rustic food. They are pâte brisée packets filled with Italian prosciutto and gouda cheese.

Happy Halloween everyone. Will you do something special tonight? Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com

 

 

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

 

Valentina Cirasola has been in business as an interior designer since 1990 improving people’s life by changing their spaces. Most often she designs kitchens and wine grottos; outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms; great rooms and entertainment rooms. Her deep interest in food led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition, and well-being. Finally, she wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine and one book on color theory, in which she included one recipe for each color.
Her fourth just published is
©The Road to Top Of The World – https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8
Amazon: http://goo.gl/qNxXrB

Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

My Personal View Of A Far Away Place | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

 

With the release of my new book, I feel obliged to talk a bit about my hometown and offer the audience an unfiltered view of the city, just as I have always known it. Bari is a large sunny city in the South of Italy, located on the Adriatic Sea, six hours South of Venice and four hours East of Rome. It is the major city of the region of Puglia and it has been named the “Milano” of the South, without the fog and industrial smokestacks of Milano. Bari is lined with palm trees, embraced by warm weather, scorching, by some people’s standards, fresh fish, colorful people and a life of “dolce far niente” (sweet do nothing life).
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

People of Bari are warm, affectionate and sociable because the warm Mediterranean weather affects them. They know how to enjoy life, too much I say.
Their mornings start at the last minute when the notion of being late to work is a known fact. Too much traffic is always the excuse. Once they arrive and get briefly situated in their work post, it is already time for coffee. Around 10:00 am, coffee shops are brimming with people indulging in espresso, they like it hot, short and to the point, standing up at the bar counter, shooting the breeze with other colleagues while passionately tasting a fragrant cornetto (croissant). The talk during the coffee time is either the latest news on the local soccer team, politics, or the juicy romantic conquest from the night before and not necessarily in that order!

 

Via Sparano – Bari – Photo: ©Valentina Cirasola

On the way to school, students bite with enjoyment into savory focaccia made with Puglia olives and tomatoes (this is after they have already had a breakfast at home: caffe’ latte and biscotti). At 1:00 pm, on the way back home from school, they will go through the same ritual… they will have another slice of that savory focaccia that makes the dead come alive again.

Work in Bari takes a different twist. All businesses, stores and schools shut down at 1:00 pm every day to allow people to go home and have lunch with their family.
If you are a smoker, consider yourself lucky, as only tobacconist shops are open during this time to help feed your vices.

Between 1:00 and 4:00 pm people do whatever they like for relaxation, but having lunch with one or two glasses of wine is the most important part of that relaxation. In fact, lunch is the biggest meal of the day and no one will ever think drinking wine for lunch is a sin, you will never hear anyone say: “No wine for me, I must return to work” and they do return to work, alive and kicking more than they are in the morning.

At 4:00 pm, activities resume until 7:00 or 8:00 at night, the streets get clogged with cars and people crawl. Contrary to those who must return to work in the afternoon, there is a category of people who have full-time jobs whose hours are only from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Yes, people who work for the government are considered full-time workers with only six hours of work!
In the afternoon, students, independently wealthy, housewives, and teenagers stroll along Via Sparano, Corso Cavour, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Piazza del Ferrarese, Piazza Mercantile and Lungomare arm-in-arm, like lovers, because Italians are touchy-touchy and kissy-kissy people and those are just a few of the most elegant places in the city, where to see and be seen.

The night stroll in Bari Vecchia is not completed without a cone of yellow butcher paper containing piping hot fried “sgagliozze” meaning triangles of salted fried polenta, fried in caldrons set in the street, outside the home of the woman who makes them. You must burn the palate with hot sgagliozze, otherwise, they are not good, say local people.

 

(Photo sgagliozze) – http://www.sabrinabarbante.com/my-favourite-italian-veg-street-food/

View of the Adriatic Sea from the Fortino – Photo ©Valentina Cirasola

Bari is composed of Bari Nuova (new city) and Bari Vecchia (old city). The charming old city is mysterious and magical, especially at night. This part of the city has the most character. Centuries ago, this was the heart of the city called “Muratti” quarters where a treasure trove of millenary arts, history and culture developed.

Bari Vecchia looks over the balcony of the Adriatic Sea like a lady waiting for her sailor. The aroma of algae and salt water mixed with the delicious smell of food coming from homes and restaurants lined up along the bank will fill your nose and permeate the air. On the spur of the moment, you might find yourself going to a seafood restaurant as if some magic spell has been played on you. No, you don’t need a reservation as restaurateurs will welcome you at any hour of the night as if they were welcoming you to their own homes. The people of Bari are night crawlers, so when I say any hour of the night, I do mean any hour. It is very common to find restaurants working at their full capacity at 3:00 am.

Photo Author: Nikater – Wikimedia

In Bari Vecchia “Castello Svevo”, a Norman-Swabian castle stands tall. Emperor Frederick II built it in the Byzantine-Norman-Swabian style. The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas is another important historic landmark, proud of its presence in the city. There, celebrations of Christian Mass for Italian people and Orthodox Mass for Russian people downstairs in the Crypt happen together.

Barese people love to exhibit themselves while going to the theatre, dressed up to their teeth and competing with each other, it’s like going to the Oscar, they will show up with the best designer outfits and wonder who wears it better. The theatre Petruzzelli is the fourth largest in Italy for its dimension and stature, where many famous opera singers and international actors have marked the stage. Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Nureyev, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli, Juliette Greco have performed there, along with the unforgettable Italian comedians, dancers, opera singers, poets and cabaret singers like Eduardo De Filippo, Riccardo Muti, Carla Fracci, Luciano Pavarotti, Piero Cappuccilli, Giorgio Gaber.

Bari was founded by the Greeks and later became a Roman municipality. In 840 AD, Bari was attacked and dominated by Saracens pirates, an attack which lasted many years. The city was saved by a Venetian fleet and remained under the Byzantine’s power for some time. In the 12th and 13th century, Bari changed the ruling power and soon, the city passed under the possession of the Normans and Swabians (today’s Bavarians). The Swabians rebuilt the city, Emperor Frederick II revitalized all activities, the city port and remodeled the castle. In his court, arts and culture flourished. “Stupor Mundi” he was surnamed, meaning amazement of the world, attributed to his high taste for refinement. The history of Bari is so much more interesting than one short paragraph, this is a city a city with a rich heritage which continues to thrive and renews itself as civilization evolves.

Due to the favorable geographic position with easy passage to the East Road, the Middle Eastern countries, and the vicinity to the Mediterranean, Bari has been the main center for trade and commerce with Levantine countries. Modern Bari today is also an active economic center, with the second largest population in the South of Italy. It has become the principal center for technological research with the Polo Universitario and Technopolis, in addition to the annual Fiera del Levante, the international trade show where many countries exhibit their specialty and products.

The Road To Top Of The World, my fourth book, full of my photography and a lot of interesting stories is done and well cooked, it is available on Amazon  https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8
Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

As a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, her native land, Valentina’s intention is to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. She wants to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism.  Through stories of local customs, art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, she wants them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out her books on
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

A New Colorful Dish | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

This Summer, I have worked very hard on my new book, my business, new study courses I attended and my right hand recovering from an ergonomic problem. Do I need an excuse to celebrate this Labor Day? Not at all. I am preparing a new dish after I saw someone eating it at a Mexican restaurant. People were sitting outside on the sidewalk of the restaurant, enjoying an early September weekend.

I don’t really know what they were eating, I just imagined and came up with my version. I bought corn tortillas, put them in pans with a star shape and baked them briefly, just enough to bend them. I filled the cavity with roasted chicken chopped up, October beans,  tomato concassé (finely diced), pieces of Parmigiano cheese, chopped dandelions, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It could not make up a dish any easier than this. My need to see colors in my food everyday is satisfied.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

 

For a drink, I always go a tasty Italian stiffener. It’s not hard alcohol, it’s an apéritif drink, Campari that is, pleasant, smooth and easy to drink.
It prepares in a split of a second: crushed ice, freshly squeezed lemon juice and Campari. Some people add fizzy mineral water to it.
This is a social drink to sip not to get drunk.
I have more tasty social drinks stored in my repertoire. Before the holidays, I will write about them.

 

For my American friends, I hope they enjoyed this Labor Day and 3-Day weekend. I hope they celebrated achievements, hard work and greatness. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com 

Valentina Cirasola has been in business as an interior designer since 1990 improving people’s life by changing their spaces. Most often she designs kitchens and wine grottos; outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms; great rooms and entertainment rooms. Her deep interest in food led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition and well-being. Finally, she wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine and one book on color theory, in which she included one recipe for each color. Get your copy of Valentina’s books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Your Face Immortalized | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

Shooting a portrait these days is so easy, especially doing selfies with iPhones. Knowing a few photography rules, everyone can turn a good photography product.
In most photographs the background is not so crucial as it is in a portrait. Doing a portrait photo session in a studio, might intimidate the subject looking at all the cameras, the lights and the equipments, but doing the portrait session in an open space where a field of greenery accentuate the skin and color of the subject, and the view leads the eyes in the background is a better solution. Depending on the goal the photographer wants to achieve, a portrait done against a beautiful colored building, or against something that creates a shadow behind the subject will add much more interest than a portrait taken in an empty field.

This is a bad portrait of me in Barcelona. I look as if I was leaning on one side and I was not. The background is too busy, the taxi car, the busyness of the Sagrada Familia construction, my hair, scarf and top matching the color of some parts of the building, all work against me, plus I was wearing dark sunglasses, no one can see my eyes.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

 

This is a better portrait of an Italian woman. She is smiling and we can see her dark eyes, however as soon as we look at her face, we are drawn immediately to her two balls necklace. The background tells us what she does in life, she is a shop keeper.

 

Clothes play a big role in a portrait. Wearing something cutting edge, might tells the viewers the subject is in the arts. Wearing something conservative, a suit or dark colors might be indicative the subject is a professional. If a portrait will be seen quite often, such as on dating sites or social sites, one might want to consider doing a new portrait every six month to keep the clothes look up to date with fashion and the face always new with a new hair style or color.

The man making mozzarella shows happiness for the piece he just created for me before my eyes. His face to me is very expressive and sincere. His eyes invite to smile.

The idea of a portrait is to let your character or quirkiness come out through the image that will immortalize your face, not to stand in the photo frame like you were doing a chore. The man above is doing just that. He likes to imitate statues and puppets in their poses, a quirkiness which lets him out of his serious profession for a few minutes. I immortalized him when he least expected.

To extract the best details of your personality, a good photographer should keep the subject distracted from the photo shoot with talks and laughs.

If you want to watch the episode Sitting Pretty in my TV series Valentina Design Universe, my guest, a renowned photographer will reveal some of his secrets on how to shoot a portrait.

Have fun immortalizing yourself and make some remarkable memories changing your face, your colors, your style. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

In my 28th years of design business I am having more fun than ever, experience eliminates stress and dictates the pace of work. I am evolving in different directions while still helping people realizing their dream spaces in homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. Colors are the main focus of my business today, changing people’s energy and life force just by introducing them to colors they would have never imagined. I am on TV once a month, that is my TV show produced under my label Valentina Design Universe, bringing fun topics to my audience.
Check out my books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/qNxXrB
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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