Veranda | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Ah… balconies with glass! Shut those glass doors and still see the world going by, keep noises away and still feel the hustle and bustle of the city. Inside, the veranda is a personal decorated island. Plants, bistro table and nice lights create a muffled world where one can paint, write, read, eat or rest. It’s a city life stacked on top of each other, but with character and style.
The sun will still come in, kiss the floor and infuse the room with warm energy.  Watch the rain trickling down the glass or the wind ruffling up the trees and feel part of nature.
Winter is out there and you are protected inside the veranda. The summer will encourage to open the glass doors of the veranda and let the curtains flow in the breeze. It is just a nice place to be.

In Italy my native country a veranda is an extension of a room with the view of the world below. It is a well-lived place, some people hang their laundry, some cook out there to keep the house free of cooking smells, some people sew and knit, some practice dance steps and others entertain in gossips. It is our way to be in company with the city, soak it in, knowing all that goes around without being a part of it.
In countries different than Italy, verandas only decorate buildings, they are not viewed as a social space and really no one sits to enjoy a nice piece of architecture.

A veranda is not a front porch or a roofed backyard patio.
A veranda is not an open balcony or a terrace.

(Villa Necchi – Milano, Italy)

A veranda is a protruding space from a building, enclosed on all sides by a railing and glass, sometimes frosted glass, sometimes plain transparent and sometimes decorated glass.
Some verandas are small and some are big enough to have seating arrangements for a few people.

They are most popular in Southern Europe, New Orléans and some areas in South America, all places where life evolves from the start of the day well into the small hours of the night and where people welcome open doors.

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val Admiring World As an Italian designer and true to my origins, I am well-known to bring originality to people’s homes, but that’s not where I stop and any situation is a perfect opportunity to design something out of the ordinary. Check out my three books on


Going Up | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

How can I forget where I grew up and where my roots are so firmly embedded?

“You are not going to find it on the floor!” I heard it often from my father. It was his way to teach me to walk proud with my head high. Walking with my head high I learned to discover beautiful architectural on top of buildings and all the details that are not at eye level for everybody to enjoy.

The streets of Italy are an open art class where walking is a real learning experience. Nude statues coexist well with people dressed in the latest fashion. Once I stayed in a hotel in Venice facing a beautiful nude of a man sculpted in marble. He was so real, I could see every vein going through his muscles and yet he sat on top of a church looking directly into my window, as sinful as he could possibly appear, almost saying:
“I am here, enjoy me!”
Ah, Venice, the only city in the world where pigeons walk, lions fly and sexy men are stones!

(Click on each photo to view it larger).


In Venice, it is common to find, in one street alone, broken pediments and eyebrows windows, neoclassical and Romanic style, Moorish windows and Baroque style, all competing to maintain a place in history. One might wonders who was the lucky patrician family to live there. Today, too often commoners are the lucky ones, people or offices who don’t even have the time to notice the beauty of their bulding.


Balconies decorate young and old buildings, they are almost like urban gardens so much sought after today. In reality, space in Italy is limited, people live in flats, for centuries balconies have been seen as an escape valve from the four walls surrounding the lives of everyone. Behind those plants on the balconies, Italians see, observe and keep the secrets of the neighbor’s life unfolding before our eyes.

If ceilings, which are not made of stones are highly decorated. In modern living, often ceilings are the forgotten walls making the room looked unfinished. In Italy, we like to eat under art, coves and circular shapes, the geometry of roundness gives vibrations of security and harmony.

In the southern parts of Italy, all the constructions are made with terrace roofs to enjoy eating ‘al fresco’ and soaking the Mediterranean sun without being seen, but in the colder north, the characteristic ‘comignoli’ chimneys line the sky. Many wealthy Californians have embellished their Tuscan style homes with copies of our Italian comignoli and ‘faccioni’ cherub’s faces stuck to walls as garden planters. The sophistication and elegance of those stone faces change any non-descriptive house into a classical villa of the past, however the Italians who are lucky to have an outdoor space, most likely will use walls, beams and stone heaves to dry produce for the winter.

My fashion school in Italy is an ancient building born first as a nunnery, then it became the state police headquarter, until in modern days, it became a fashion school. Going up those marble stairs made 400 years ago, warped in the center I felt a great sense of respect towards history. All of us students walked on each side of the stairs to preserve them a little while longer.

I never did find anything on the floor, except a few red cents.

This is in response to WP weekly photo challenge theme UP.


Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


ValWorkingValentina Cirasola is a trained Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990. Being Italian born and raised, classicism, stylish and timeless designs have influenced Valentina’s design work. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away your comfort. She loves to restore old homes, historic dwellings and she focuses on remodeling. Find her books on


Appear At The Balcony, My Love! | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer


Letters to Juliet, the latest film with Vanessa Redgrave and Italian actor Fabio Testi that every girlfriend of mine is talking about.
(Verona Balcony photo—Romeo-and-Juliet-Balcony–Verona-Italy_web.jpg )

The film is based on “What if you had a second chance to find true love?” and of course there is no better place to talk about love than from Juliet and Romeo’s famous balcony in Verona. Hollywood’s ability to prompt women to dream still amazes me. The Italian sceneries in the film are so beautiful, the golden aura of the Mediterranean projected on ancient walls and stones contributes to the romanticism and fantasy. Juliet and Romeo’s balcony is the focus of the last scene that makes the story ending into “they lived happy forever after”. To a realist like me, it was just a nice few hours at the cinema.
But what prompted me to write this small piece is the balcony, a piece of architecture that pushed me back in time, when I was a young woman, constantly in love with anybody who walked.

Yes, it all happened on the balcony of my mom’s house and when my mom was a young woman, most “seen and being seen” happened on the her mother’s balcony too.

In Italy a balcony is a lived space, an added space to the house, or apartment. We Italians sit on the balcony to admire the view whether we have one or not and if we don’t have a view, we scrutinize our neighbors. We get to know them and all their family problems, somehow the balcony doors are always open. We cultivate small orchards on pots and every possible cooking spice, along with flowers. Colors, colors, colors burst from Italian balconies. Among the few produce planted on balconies, tomatoes take first attention, they are a must in the Italian cuisine.

Balconies in Italy are also used to hang clean laundry to dry in the open air, clothes dryers are not popular at all. Naples is one of the most renowned and characteristic city of Italy for its clothes hanging over the streets, leaving to the imagination of the passers-by observations and comments of who could wear those clothes. With a pulley, clothes span from one balcony to another, serving two different families on both sides of the same street.
Hanging clothes to dry from balconies is a practice most popular in the the South of Italy where climate is warmer and people colorful.

On balconies Italians “mettono tavola” meaning they set an outdoor table and dine al fresco, mostly at night, when they can be refreshed in the cool night air, after a long day of Summer heat. It is an excuse to participating also to the night life of people strolling down below in the street. While all of that goes on in the street, up in the balconies, people carry on with their lives until the small hours of the night, as if nobody sees them. In fact, when the weather is really hot it is not uncommon to get a mattress and sleep on the balcony.

To cut down on their routine tasks, housewives lean on balconies and drop a basket down below to the local family owned grocery shop, or drug store to get the small items needed for today’s cooking. The grocer puts in the basket all she needs and the basket returns upstairs, payment for that merchandise comes later. The basket is always attached with a rope to the rail of the balcony ready to be dropped down at any request. On the other hand, women at home, regardless of the busyness of their lives, always have time to spend a few minutes on the balcony to pass along a recipe, or a gossip with the next balcony neighbors, or at best a taste of their cup of coffee.

On Italian balconies young women, who are learning the art of coquetry, show themselves off to potential boyfriends, almost like showing off what they have to offer. The young girl coming out of their shells and new at this game, do everything in their power to attract the young man’s attention they are interested in. They appear at the balcony at the same exact time the young man is passing by, because they have studied him and learned every move he makes…..Suddenly, something falls down from the girl’s balcony, just when he is passing through……oh Heaven!….he is looking up….

In America we don’t socialize through our balconies. Actually only upscale homes have balconies, but nobody uses them, they are only there for beauty and to pay more taxes as exterior spaces. Some are even fake, no exit to it, only a rail attached to the walls as a suggestion of balcony. Our privacy is precious and guarded with sentinels, but when we go to Italy, funny, we like how everything evolves over there, even when people enter our lives through balconies without permission. My life in America is so different now, without that closeness to the neighbors and their lives. I truly miss my Italian balcony, a fabulous piece of architecture, that has been the protagonist of love stories through centuries.

So, let’s ask ourselves that “What if?”.


This article was also published on:
L’Italo-Americano Weekly Newspaper and  Italian American Heritage Foundation paper.


Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


VBlue2Valentina Cirasola is an interior and fashion designer, in business since 1990 helping people with design challenges in both Europe and USA. She helps people realizing their dream spaces in homes, offices, interiors, exteriors, restaurants and more. Check out her books on


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