Even The Fastest Race Car Needs A Pit Stop | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

I read in a travel magazine that in North America 25% of the population never takes vacations and 37% will only take one week of vacation a year. Considering that North America is a highly productive part of the world, how can we keep our sanity and keep on producing our wealth if we don’t ever take a break from the daily grinding? We know that stress is the major cause of heart disease, high cholesterol and on and on, while our nerves are slowly being pulled apart as a rubber bend until they snap for good and become beyond repair.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

Gargano(Architiello S. Felice seen from the sea- trip to the sea caves of Vieste by Cappellaccio)

As we need restorative breaks in life, April 15, 2013 I am taking a group of curious travelers to Puglia, Italy, the region where I come from, South-East of Italy, sitting pretty on the blue-green Adriatic Sea looking at the white Greece and the Dalmatian Coast of the ex-Yugoslavia. Puglia is one of the many Italian regions not well-publicized to mass tourism, thus it is an area where the land is virgin, the air is pure, food is deliciously hand-made fresh every day, people are warm and friendly and prices are affordable. This is a place where you will reconnect with freedom, or will make you the protagonist of your own art of vacationing.

Trani(Cathedral of Trani – Via Pinterest)

Traveling to Puglia is not about a super luxurious accommodation, but about finding new experiences and feeling new emotions. Puglia will teach you how to lose yourself in moments totally without the “hurry” word. I promise, while you are there, you will not want to see your electronics to connect with work back home!

 

My father used to say: “Andiamo piano che abbiamo fretta” meaning “let’s go slow in order to go fast”. How true is that? If you don’t slow down, you will never be attentive to the details in your life and fall in love with them, or even appreciating the “unexpected” life brings.

Our private bus will take us to many places, however the trip is not a “tour de force”! At our leisure, I will take the group through beautiful landscape of orchards, vineyards and seaside views, art, history and shopping in markets. The group will learn to appreciate local traditions, the rhythm of nature and its sounds, healthy natural food cooked at home, colorful atmosphere and the pleasure of making your own food. Yes, perhaps, one or two nights we will cook with a local chef in the farmhouse where we will stay. Puglia will teach you never to eat alone. One a different day, we will have a crazy fun, dressing up in vintage clothes and ride in vintage cars along the Adriatic Sea, or perhaps you will want to experience a relaxing massage with olive oil, the “green gold” of this land.
Register here: https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-2

I will take the group to an “unexpected” Italy through all the human senses, collecting memories or flavors and not material things. I will show you how simple food will change you forever, as it fulfills your soul and rewards your health. While we are on the subject, we will talk about Italian table manners and etiquette.

Eating in Barrels

(Ristorante Gorgo Di Fuoco – Putignano)

Even The Fastest Race Car Needs A Pit Stop, you need to stop in Puglia! Please find price, all the information needed and watch the videos when you click on the link. Start packing and register here: https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-2
Registrations will close March 20, 2013 and I want to see you on my bus. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val:FarfalleStampValentina Cirasola will host three trips a year to Italy based on her three books with the intention of showing Italy with the eyes of a designer born in those parts and let people experience the ”wheel of emotions” in the non-commercial Italy away from beaten paths of massive tourism. Valentina is NOT a travel agency, but with the help of her Italian expert travel team, she will guide her tours through art, architecture, food, shopping and special adventures organized for people who want to live it up! Register here: https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-2.

Find Valentina’s books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

The Red On The Cheeks Comes From The Mouth | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

One of my friends has just returned from a month of vacation in Italy. She spent two weeks of her vacation in a kitchen of an agritourism to get some hands-on training on typical Italian cuisine. She is a personal chef and owns a catering company. Our catching up conversation was mostly centered on Italian food and table customs. She could not help but noticing the difference and making a comparison between her American eating customs and the Italian eating style. She noticed how properly people conducted themselves while sitting at the table and how she never spotted an Italian local person eating in the street while walking, an activity only foreigners and tourists engaged in.

focacciapomodori_a

At the restaurants and in the place where she was cooking for a few days, she went along with the flow of dinner and how her hosting friends conceived it. They ordered many dishes from antipasto to pasta, meats, and vegetables to fruit, cheeses and dessert. The dishes arrived at the table not in serving platters for sharing, as often is done in the States, but in single plates, each person got his/her portion of everything ordered.

cavatelli-limonati

One time they ordered grilled fish and she did not expect to see the deboning process at the table, right before her eyes. That is a common practice in any respectable Italian restaurant.

waiter-cleaning-the-fish
Photo waiter deboning fish at the table  from TripAdvisor 

There was a considerable time space between each specialty, she told me. At first she was puzzled to why it took so long to finish the entire dinner and even longer to get the check, people lingered at the table, talking with espresso coffee and digestive drinks, but by observing how Italians carried on conversation and relaxed with wines and company, she understood right away that she was in the land of “Dolce Vita” where eating is an art and nothing else is important while sitting at a dining table.

At some tables where business people gathered for lunch, talking about business, my friend observed, did not take place until after all the ordering of food and wines was completed and after people took interest in each other’s life, news of their families and the general happenings. Then during the second half of the dinner, business talk started.

She was all so surprised to see the freshness of food and its vibrant colors in both raw and cooked state. Fish was colorful and smelled like the sea, she said. Of course, she knows that in America supermarkets do not sell the entire fish stock in one day, thus the next day the store will re-propose old fish to the customers marinated in herbs or in some kind of dry rub. In Italy, nobody would buy the re-adaptation of fish. If I want fish, I go directly to the fishmongers. I am fortunate to live in a coastal place, where it is possible to go directly to the source.

My friend asked me why in Italy people don’t suffer gluten problems as people in the States do. You would think that with the large amount of pasta, rice, pizza and bread consumed in Italy, everyone would have gluten intolerance. Well, the answer is simple and crude: Italian food manufacturers do not stuff food with hormones, vitamins, sugar, sodium, MSG and other absurd chemicals. Read the labels of any American food and you will see that the majority of ingredients are unpronounceable chemicals and of real food, there is only a faint percentage. In Italy egg yolks are orange, chickens are yellow and don’t eat corn; pigs are not fed with hormones but acorns, which makes our famous prosciutto (ham) so perfectly balanced; gelato is made with real milk and fruit; bread only contains flour, water, yeast, and olive oil; vegetables are not sprayed with chemicals and fruit arrive at the supermarket with the dirt they grew in, not polished with wax. To this add the Italian lifestyle. Italian people walk to stores, to work, to schools and most of the places they must reach every day. In fact, my friend the chef, after all the commercial cooking she did for her own experience and the eating she did for her own enjoyment with daily wine tasting, lost 14 lb in one month and she could not explain how it happened.

As I say during my books’ presentations: “The red on the cheeks comes from the mouth”. Eating real food daily will help release extra pounds and stabilize the weight. Most importantly, real food will introduce positive energy in the stomach, which in turn will exude from your skin pores and that is good enough to keep away for your system any food intolerance ever invented by the human mind. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.Valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She especially loves to design all those rooms with a “make me feel good” tag attached, such as kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms, and entertainment rooms. She is a public speaker and a mentor. She is also the author of two Italian regional cuisine books and a book on colors, all available here in this site on the Books page and on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Calendimaggio | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

So much is happening in the world of Italy in the month of April and May. I have been there working, vacationing and taking notes.
Not knowing when work and play stop and start, I am considering myself lucky. The dilemma is what to write about first. Do I write about the Saint Nicholas celebration in Bari, which happens again in December, or do I write about Saint Francis festival, the “Calendimaggio” in Assisi, which happens only in May? I have seen both celebrations in the same month, they are unforgettable historic folklorist events and I don’t want to lose the opportunity to spread the words.
(Photo left source: http://www.inumbria.net/ita/ita_evento.html?ID_evento=558979221)

“Calendimaggio” festival happens every year on the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday of May to inaugurate the arrival of spring, greeting the rebirth of life, after winter hibernation and hardships. During the centuries many northern European cultures have celebrated the arrival of spring with flowers and colors.

The Celts had two seasons in a year, the dark and the light season, the effect of spring did not come until the beginning of May.
The Romans during the “Floralia” celebrated Maia and Flora, two goddesses of Spring. Groups of young gaudentes in flowery dresses decorated with flowers in the hair and all over their bodies, sang, danced and charmed the people in the streets with their serenades.

During the Middle Age the newly adopted Gregorian calendar changed the name of the spring celebration to “Kalende di Maggio” (Calendar of May), but the objective was the same: to propitiate the abundance and good fortune at the beginning of the season transformation, when trees bloom and start producing fruits. This transformation of nature is the fundamental base of a better life. Good food means good health, which in turn means better spiritual life. Banquets, bonfires, songs and dances at the top of the hill celebrated the season transformation, while inevitably the so-called “honorable” citizens erupted in horseback fights.

(Photo left Sbandieratori -source: http://www.fideacademy.com/assisi/speciale-cerimonia-di-premiazione)

Bitter and hard conflicts between various factions were the reason for creating Saints, symbols and flags in most history of people and Assisi’s history is no different. Today, the show of the skilled flag wavers is magnetic. The colors of the flags are blue for secular authority and red for pontifical authority, both temporal and religious powers in the Middle Age.

The spring celebration, a pagan custom, blends well with the religious celebration of Saint Francis, the patron of Italy, which happens simultaneously. Young Francesco (Francis) renounced his nobel and rich heritage, adopted a simple brown robe with a rope in the waist as his dress and served as the “poor of God” looking after the poor and sick people, spreading the Word of God.

The beginning of the spring season today is celebrated much the same way with love songs, choral music and street dances accompanied by violins, guitars and lutes. There are competitions, games and events, without the bloodshed of the old Middle Age. Medieval processions and torch-lit parades will recapture the old charm.

The festival leads to the prestigious Palio with two districts of the town of Assisi competing against each other for a valuable prize. The districts are the ‘Magnifica Parte de Sotto and the ‘Nobilissima Parte de Sopra’, meaning the Low and High Districts of Assisi.

 

(Photo left source: http://www.italoamericano.org/story/2014-5-1/Calendimaggio)

All of this fun and re-enactment of history happens while the aroma of the traditional porchetta and roast-suckling pig fills the air of the entire town.

It was worth going out-of-the-way of my designated path while in Italy. I had never seen the city of Assisi overflowing with a kaleidoscope of colors, flowers, adorned trees, various symbols, statues, altars, religious figurines, flags and gonfalons, as in this three days of celebration of life, peace and food.

(Photo Porchetta source: http://castelli.romatoday.it/ariccia/la-porchetta-di-ariccia-ottiene-il-marchio-igp.html)


People were so happy and proud of their Italian heritage and I am too. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is a trained Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990. 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 your comfort. She loves to restore old homes, historic dwellings and she focuses on remodeling. She is interested in food in history studies and historical events.

Author of two Italian regional cuisine books available here in this site on the Books Page and in various other locations:

Come Mia Nonna-A Return To Simplicity  http://outskirtspress.com/ComeMiaNonna
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnq8baaAq0M
Sins Of A Queen http://outskirtspress.com/SinsOfAQueen

 

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