Saint Nicholas Of Bari Is Loved In Russia | Valentina Cirasola | Designer

Last year part of the Saint Nicholas relics, a fragment of about 7″ of his left ribs to be exact, was packed up in a glass case, enveloped in a fabric decorated with precious embroidered reliefs and shipped to Russia with a pompous ceremony. Orthodox chants, the sound of church’s bells and an escort of high ranking Italian state police saluted the relics on the Italian side. The fragment boarded a private Russian plane and was received on the Russian side with the same formality and high government officials. The relics went to Moscow then to St.Petersburg and remained until the end of July. The guests of my trip visiting Bari last year didn’t get to see it in the Basilica.
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

Photo taken by Valentina Cirasola, from a private lithograph.

930 years ago mariners from Bari took Saint Nicholas’s remaining and transferred it from Turkey to Bari, where it reposed in the Basilica of old Bari.
Saint Nicholas is one of the most venerated saint in the Catholic, Orthodox Churches and in the Christian world.

The Venetians, during the first Crusade in 1099, also subtracted the rest of the bones from Saint Nicholas’s tomb, that the mariners from Bari missed to take and are are now kept in San Nicolo’ Abbey of Lido. Saint Nicholas became the protector of Venice’s fleet.

Why Saint Nicholas is so important to so many religions? He was born in 270 a.C. in Patara of Licia in Turkey from a wealthy Greek family. The plague struck both of his parents and he was left with an enormous patrimony at a very young age, which he distributed among the poor. He moved to Myra in Turkey, became a priest and later bishop of Myra. He lived his life as the benefactor of the poor and defrauded. Due to his commitment he was  persecuted and imprisoned under Emperor Diocletian, freed years later under Emperor Constantine.

One of the many legends says that Nicholas heard about a rich man who lost all his wealth and could not marry his three daughters anymore with a decent dowry Due to the new social status, the man wanted to start his three daughters to prostitution. Saint Nicholas took a good amount of money, wrapped it in a cloth and, on three consecutive nights, when nobody was watching, threw the money into the man’s house. Nicholas made sure the three daughters had the dowry for marriage.

(Above: Russian Orthodox praying in the Saint Nicholas’s Crypt – Bari, Italy)

Bari – Vaults at San Nicholas, Bari

(Above; Exterior façade of Saint Nicholas Basilica, Bari, Italy)

The city of Bari, by lending the relic to Russia and through many previous actions, has demonstrated through the centuries to be a good bridge between the East and the West. With this gesture Bari is sending a message of peace between the religions.
Today Saint Nicholas Basilica in the old Bari welcomes the Orthodox pilgrims that want to venerate its relics, both Orthodox and Catholics share prayers in the crypt and the space in the Basilica with various ceremonies.

Photo found on Bari Today

May 8th will be a huge Saint Nicholas celebration in Bari, it will go on for 2-3 days and the statue of Saint Nicholas will be taken on the boat at sea.
Many fishermen will compete in a hard city selection to determine which will be the best boat that will take the statue at sea. It’s an impressive celebration, a long suggestive historic procession to celebrate the patron of Bari. Pilgrims come from far away places, some even on foot and a year of preparation for concerts, vending kiosks, organization of city traffic, processions and street prayers will be finally over.

When I was 5 or 6 years old, my brother and I lost our parents in the heavy crowd of this festivity. A policeman found us and took us in the police station, propped us in front of a TV, gave us some munchies and waited for our parents to claim us. Two hours later, maybe earlier, it sure seemed a long time, our parents came all distraught and preoccupied. We were disappointed to see them, we had to go home and no more TV, but on the way home, inside of us, we felt safe and loved. That night nothing was going to bother us.  I will always remember that San Nicholas’s Day.

If you are in Puglia at this time, do not miss this May 8th historical event. Ciao.

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


Symmetry | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

WordPress weekly challenge is Symmetry –

When I think of symmetry the first image I see in my mind is the symmetric Italian architecture. Clean, orderly, calming and easy on the eyes, Italian architecture has been copied throughout the centuries and all over the world. Wherever there are government buildings, banks, museums, houses of nobles and wealthy people or places where history happens, there is a symmetrically designed building in the classic and neo-classic style. I grew up in my Italy and before I became an expat, classic architecture was all I knew. I spent three years studying fashion in a 400 years old Neo-Classic style fashion school, my University was built in the classic order and my first job was in a Palladium style building. I was fortunate to live in classic beauty!

BTW, as the promoter of Puglia, I accompany small groups to Italy every May. You can be just as fortunate to see all the beauty of Italy if you join us. Check out my trip page:

Architecture is not the only place where we can admire symmetry. If you like to go to the Opera House, you will notice that all the seats and balconies are centered around the stage with a balanced uniformity and symmetry: the view is just about the same from every angle, the red velvet seats are aligned like soldiers and the décor is the same on every floor.

Symmetry in home interiors, where everything is beautifully proportioned and balanced, assures calmness and harmony. It naturally forces people to be organized and coming home to a space that has symmetry is restful, but only if it is clean. Symmetry and cleanliness go hand in hand, one cannot exist without the other.

Of course if you put symmetry on your plate, what do you think is the natural thing to do? You feel encouraged to eat the food well presented versus a messy plate. Look around your home, is everything symmetrical and is it what you really want? Ciao,


Copyright © 2015 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

10626547_10203527385518761_5878448476892428943_nValentina Cirasola is a trained
 Interior-Fashion Designer
 in business since 1990. She is the owner and principal designer of her company: Valentina Interiors & Designs. Being Italian born and raised, Valentina’s design work has been influenced by Classicism and timeless style. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away a comfortable living. Find Valentina’s three books on

Sea-Urchins or First Newly Wed Night? | Valentina Cirasola |Author and Designer


Sea Urchin

Fish in Puglia is a sacred saint subject! It is a very serious matter. People eat it at least four times a week and every time is a ritual.
“Il fritto misto”, or mixed fried fish is always eaten with the hands when brought to the mouth is almost like playing the harmonica with the flesh and the bones.

Many fish sauces or broths are always used as condiments to pasta or rice and the fish cooked with those sauces becomes the second course, this way the preparation time is well spent and we have two substantial dishes at once. It is also a good way to save money on food. Pugliese cooking is today, as it was in the antiquity, a frugal cuisine.
One characteristic aspect of the fish in Puglia is the ritual of eating it raw on the bank of the Adriatic Sea.

In Bari, there is a place called: “N-Derr’a La Lanze”, a centre of the mariners’ life of the old city, where fishermen leave their boats to rock on the calm waters of the port and where they sew their nets and curl octopi for hours. Curling octopi it is a spectacle to see! It is an ancient practice that goes back to the late 1500’s and is only done in Bari.

The City Council governing Bari in the 1500′s established that the curled octopi had to be sold in a roll of one Kilogram at the price of 3-1/2 grain, which was the money value at that time. The curling serves the purpose of tenderizing the octopi, which then will be eaten raw with only a glass of white wine and a piece of fresh country Pugliese bread.

Much seafood, or as we call them “frutti di mare” are eaten raw, such as sea truffles, mussels, clams, razor clams, oysters, sea-urchins, smelt fish and others found in the Mediterranean Sea. Sunday meals especially are not complete without seafood.
We have an old Barese saying that goes: “It is better to eat sea-urchins and seafood than to consummate a first newlywed night”. In other words, sea-urchins are only good when they are freshly caught, retaining briefly their color and taste of the sea, but marriage, when built on solid foundations, is always there.

Please forward this article to anyone you think might be interested in reading it and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Thank you. Ciao.
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Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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