At The Café des Poètes | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

It is so uncharacteristic of me to write a post like this, but I want to continue on the idea from James Cudney’s Blast From The Past – Inoffensive (read him here) with my own experience, a memory of the past as well.

In my Italian native town, there was the Café des Poètes, owned by a Francophile, a boisterous painter, who attracted a lot of similar people to his coffee shop, artists, writers, university students, philosophers, literature professors, free thinkers, penniless people, but full of ideas and beautiful words. The place was not too big, decorated in the shabby French style with many vintage articles from Provence. The air was smoky (everyone smokes in Europe even today), dark, lit by candlelight and some table lamps, the fireplace was always on, the sofas and comfy chairs came from people’s home who discarded them for better quality, more modern furniture, and a lot of unknown paintings covered the textured walls, purposely maintained decrepit.

Too bad I don’t have a photo of the Cafe’. At the time we didn’t go around with expensive phones taking pictures of every little thing we saw, only photographers captured any moments. There was always a bike or two parked outside the Café des Poètes, this photo of an anonymous French cafe’ reminds me of that.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

 

Bike-Veuve Clicot.jpg

Bike with a Veuve Clicot bottle.jpg

The Café des Poètes was very friendly, everyone knew everyone and when one of the habitual customers didn’t show up for a week, we started to question the whereabouts of that person. This was not just a cafe’, it was a meeting point of tight net friends, a hub where to create and develop new/old ideas while eating beans and sausage cooked in a clay pot in the brick oven, it was a poor dish served with a lot of toasted bread and a winner dish on the house menu. The menu didn’t exist, the man behind the counter asked us what we wanted and he brought instead what he had, beans and sausage dish was always available.

The Bohemian environment of the Café des Poètes was one of the attractions of the place, however, the heated up discussions we had in there were epic and how we were so very vocal with our opinions was almost at the verge of legality. That freedom to say what we wanted was the real attraction of the place, we did not know how to be politically correct, that phrase had not been coined yet. We didn’t destroy, we built. Our thoughts became actions for the next generation. It didn’t matter how much we disagreed on certain issues, it didn’t matter how much we screamed at each other, at the end of the evening we were still friends.

Years later, when I watched the film with Robin Williams “Dead Poet Society” I relived those same moments I had known so well at the Café des Poètes. In the film, students of a prestigious university snuck out of the school every night and secretly met in a cave to contemplate life from a different perspective. Their goal was to rebel against the conventionalism of society and to encourage everyone to think outside the box as individuals.

 

Dead Poet Society

Members of the Dead Poets Society gather. Photograph: Touchstone/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

 

Fast forward many years later, here I am commenting on a post from James Cudney, telling the story about how difficult it has been to keep everything bottled up inside for an unbridled outspoken person like me. When I moved to the States, I found it difficult to keep the same tones I was accustomed to in my native land. Here speaking my mind created a desert around me and it would have made me a lonely wolf if I had continued. I was in disbelief, all those discussions in the Café des Poètes never compared to the indifference I found here or maybe the lack of passion for conversation (everyone is on the computer and phone), or even worse the unwillingness to make waves. Yes, it is easy to make friends when agreeing with everyone, it’s also the best way to fall in the trap of brain unification, in my opinion.

In the film Dead Poet Society, the teacher Mr. Keating (Robin Williams) shows Tom, one of the students, how to share what was closed inside of him starting with the sound of a loud “Barbaric Yawp”. What a scene!
I learned to yawp loud and clear to the walls of my home and then I talk to them. They don’t react and don’t attack me, as people would do, I am still my own individual, and I can keep close to those few people who call themselves “friends”.

Do you want to Yawp on my blog and tell your open opinion, go right ahead, you are welcome to speak out here. Ciao.
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page 

Copyright © 2020 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

Valentina

Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion designer, author of 5 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. She has conceived a few new books of various subjects to which she is working simultaneously. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking, and travel. She never gives up trying new things and doesn’t fear failure. Some years ago, Valentina became a TV producer/host producing shows under her label: Valentina Design Universe. The goal of her shows is to entertain, inspire, and inform, while she is living her passion. Get a copy of her books here: Amazon and Barnes&Noble

Cafe’ Life | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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How many times have you sat at a café in Italy enjoying the restful moment that a cup of coffee can give you? You were observing people around you, occasionally and without being invited into the conversation you heard all that people were saying at the next tables. The colorful street life took all your attention and you wondered if people sitting at the café ever worry about anything. The atmosphere does feel as an outdoor living room, conducive to relaxation. But this is what café life is all about, leaving the worry behind to enjoy a small part of the day by ourselves and regroup, or connect with friends and cultivate relationships.

In Europe and Italy coffee shops have always been the cove to go to, often during the day, to stay, relax, meditate, discuss with friends and like-minded people and to make work deals. News and gossips came from the local cafés; often people asked what was going on in the cafés at the start of the day. One more important aspect of the café life is to find a love match. Why not? At least the catch is right there in front of your eyes, in all the details and with no surprises. In the past women were not permitted entry in the cafés, thus strolling by, was just good enough to be noticed.


(Cafe’ Florio)

Part of the Italian history was written in the cafés of Torino, the first capital of Italy, an elegant city in the Piedmont region.

Camillo Benso Count of Cavour frequented Caffè Florio where he met often with Italian officials to talk about the fate of the country. In this café we can taste the excellent pâtisserie production and appreciate the elegant atmosphere as we can in all of the city’s historic cafés. The huge and complicated coffee machines of the past make the focal point in the Italian historic cafés. Such a beauty on display!

(Cafe’ Grilli)

From Torino, going down on the Italian peninsula we can enjoy Caffe’ Gilli in Florence built in 1733 during the reign of Gian Gastone de’ Medici, decorated in the Liberty style of early 1900s. For two and half century of history the café has been the cove for artists, painters, literates and political people. Its sophisticated décor, complemented with frescoed ceilings and glass chandeliers from Murano, never allowed fistfights and flying chairs or dishes, as it happened often in other cafés, where the décor was not so sumptuous and invited boisterous behavior.


(Cafe’ Gambrinus)

At the elegant Café Gambrinus in Naples, the art of making coffee doesn’t stop at a cup of coffee. I tasted the finest baba, tiramisu’ and a lemon sorbet served in a hollowed out lemon peel that was the end of this world.

Naples is proud of the heritage left by the famous coffee shop, Caffe’ Molaro in Piazza Dante, whose origins go back to early 1800s.
The brewing of the coffee was simple family style: coffee ground was boiled in water in a clay pot and served in small clay containers. The fortune of Caffé Molaro came with other ideas that had nothing to do with coffee. The Café offered pastries, a variety of gelato flavors and a new sophisticated atmosphere with piano music. It attracted the upper classes that locked to the Café to experience the nightlife.
However, the creation of a new elixir, a digestive after dinner drink to serve with an improved coffee drink was the real novelty of Neapolitan Caffe’ Molaro and brought much success to the Café.

(Cafe’ Florian)

My favorite of all coffee houses in Italy has been forever Café Florian in Venice, in Piazza San Marco. Opened on December 29, 1720 under the name Alla Venezia Trionfante (To Triumphant Venice) was soon called Florian after its owner’s name Floriano Francesconi. This year Café Florian is celebrating its 291st birthday. What a fun place this is! I visit it every time I am in Venice, as I try to land there on purpose when I fly home to Italy to spend two-three days in the mysterious town.

Through the centuries this café too has been the hangout of artists, painters, literates, actors and actresses, political people and nobles of all casts, rich merchants and foreign visitors. Situated under the porticos of Piazza San Marco, this elegant café carries all the secrets of a rich and peaceful Venice of the past.
If walls could talk, they would tell us the stories of Goethe, Lord Byron or Casanova’s dangerous liaisons, always in search of new female lovers. Casanova, a gentle soul, really loved his women, cultivated their beauty, placed them on a pedestal and made them feel appreciated. Don Giovanni, au contraire, a young, arrogant, sexually prolific nobleman, abused and outraged all the women he had an encounter with. Casanova is my icon I had to defend him.

 

sala_uomini_illustri_caffe_florian
(Sala Uomini Illustri – Photo above – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sala_Uomini_Illustri_Caff%C3%A8_Florian.jpg)

The typical Venetian interior style décor of the 1700s is the reflection of a secretly permissive era, during which coquetries and affected manners were the reach of the day. 1700s décor was very ornate, as Venice was one of the five wealthy Republics in Italy, independent from the rest of the government.

Café Florian is the summary of Venice’s wealth. It shows in the intricate details of mosaic floors, coffered or faux painted ceiling, rich colors on the walls, Damask upholstery of the chairs, expensive carved wood details and large gold foil mirrors. Today we can still admire all the artistic works made by hand by the masters of that era.

Café Florian was and still is the cove of gossips, fashion talks, political discussions, but especially the center of cultural, music concerts and art events, as the famous Biennale of Venice, organized the first time in 1895 in honor of King Umberto and Queen Margherita of Italy.

Starbucks tried to recreate the same atmosphere of Italian cafés in its franchised establishments, but sorry guys, the charm, the mystery and the magic is not there! Starbucks clients are the new yuppies, or professionals with a home based businesses that want to escape the boredom and solitude of their home office and find themselves even more alone inside of Starbucks with their computers and wi-fi.
Café’ is for relaxation and free the mind for a short while, not to develop work!!!

Now going back to my interior designer profession. Often, I have recreated tasting room in kitchens and wine cellars for homes, why not design a café corner in any part of a home, even in the garden. It would be so special and dainty! I have mine and it is perfect for me, let’s design yours!
Let me know if I can help you creating your cafe’ life in your home by leaving your name in the box below. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990 and a former Fashion Designer. She has been developing projects in the USA and Europe serving a variegated group of fun people. She blends well fashion and interior in any of her design work. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles. Being Italian born and raised, Valentina’s design work has been influenced by Classicism and stylish, timeless designs. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away a comfortable living. Find her books on

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

 

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