Guest Blog: Cooking Is A Form Of Love | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

A couple of months ago Wisedecor.com contacted me to contribute to each others blog with articles on home subjects. They specialize in personalizing home décor with favorite wall letters, words, quotes & decals to apply in any room with any style. WiseDecor Decorative Lettering offers a fresh and inexpensive way to decorate.

Kitchen2

(Photo: ©Valentina Interiors & Designs)

 

Last week my article Cocooning In The Kitchen was published on their site:
“Do you remember the film Moonstruck with Cher? Many scenes in that film take place in the kitchen. Loretta Castorini (Cher) comes home after Johnny Camereri proposed marriage to her in an Italian restaurant. Her father Cosmo is listening to Opera on the radio in the living room. Loretta wants to announce she is getting married to Johnny Camereri and invites her father to the kitchen for a glass of Italian Spumante. A serious matter is always discussed in the hearth of the house, around the kitchen table! (…).
(…) In most families the kitchen means harmony, it is the cocoon where we find the answers to the majority of our questions in life and where everyday we go back to relax around food.
Today’s kitchens have returned to be the same multi-functional great rooms of the Middle Age, where cooking, entertainment, receiving guests, sleeping and resolving issues happened all through the day. (…)”
Continue reading my article on http://www.wisedecor.com/blog/cocooning-in-the-kitchen

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Today, I am sharing their thoughts on how Cooking Is A Form Of Love and this is the article written by:  http://www.wisedecor.com

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“The kitchen is the heart of the Italian house. Whereas formal guests are welcomed in the living room and presented with coffees and pastry for relaxed catching-up sessions, members of the family would rather meet around the kitchen table. Meals are scheduled to accommodate different timetables and daily routines and to ensure that everybody can enjoy food together. There is something special about eating with the other members of your family. It is far more than simply feeding and sustaining your body; it is an act of love. As Italians would say, “cucinare è una forma d’amore” (cooking is love made visible), and to share food is the best way to display that love. On one hand, the person in charge of cooking will prepare tasty dishes as a way to tell how much she/he cares for the other family members. On the other hand, those eating will reciprocate that love by eating up what’s on the plate and asking detailed questions about ingredients, origins of the recipe, and difficulties encountered in the preparation. Quite often, the story of how a meal was prepared will initiate other stories about how the recipe was discovered  and in which circumstances. As a result, conversations about a specific food will often lead to the narrating of stories about people, places, and occasions that somehow relate to the dish in question. It is fair to say that every recipe carries a story that the cook will happily share to entertain and please her/his loved ones or guests.

LaCucinaEIl-newRevision

Interestingly, keys, wallets and purses will be left in the kitchen, as it is the “safe” of the house – someone will always be there on guard. More importantly, this is the last place you visit before leaving the house to double-check that you have all the necessary items before exiting the house.

It is fairly common to hear Italians talking about food; they exchange recipes, rate restaurants they have been to, and discuss how to improve dishes they have already made. It is fascinating to realize how, whenever in the company of Italian people living abroad or travelling outside of Italy, they always end up talking about food. And yet, this is not due to a lack of other possible topics for conversation, rather it is the concrete expression of the degree to which their upbringing has molded their ways of approaching people and establish relationships. Talking about food is often an icebreaker and also a way to strengthen emotional bonds. This is why there is nothing more accurate than the saying, “it is around the table that friends understand best the warmth of being together” (See the Italian translation for this designed by WiseDecor Wall Decals in Figure 3). 

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Meals will never be quick and rushed; rather they will extend for hours while several plates are introduced and more bottles of wine opened. Every conversation will start with an assessment of the food presented followed by compliments to the cook and requests to exchange cooking tips. Many other stories will originate from the initial food conversation and plans for new dinners will be made to taste and share new recipes. The length of dinner parties is impressive and the amount of time spent around the kitchen table eating often surprises non-Italians. In fact, it is important to understand that in Italy, to eat is not always directly related to being hungry. Rather, Italians think that “appetite comes with eating”! It is not surprising then to be forced-fed by the cook who will always argue that it is indeed by eating that you will eventually realise how hungry you are. Buon Appetito!”

Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValentinaBlueStampValentina is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens, cooking and extensive knowledge of food. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. Copies of her three books are available on 

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

Local Flavors | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

The idea of Local Flavors by http://biancadventures.wordpress.com  gives me an opportunity to show some of the local flavors my group of curious travelers will experience as soon as they land in Italy this coming April 15 with me. That’s right, I am taking a group to Puglia, South East of Italy on the Adriatic Sea. In 2012 American soap opera running on T.V. since 25 years ago “The Bold And The Beautiful” filmed eight episodes of the main protagonist’s wedding between the towns of Alberobello, Polignano a Mare and Fasano, a very quaint area of the region.  
I didn’t even know the existence of this soap opera until I spotted this video, now I just hope Hollywood’s influence on the region doesn’t help raising prices for the locals.

Don Antonio the fruit vendor, truly an Italian charmer, always offers the typical afternoon glass of bubbles (Italian Prosecco) with familiar shoppers that come in after 6:00 pm. He knows how to keep the shoppers faithful to his merchandise and how to keep them in the shop. It is a ritual while shopping there for produce to get a glass of Prosecco and a taste of something delicious his wife prepares daily with his fruit and vegetables. They are two delightful people who can steal your time blindly if you don’t watch the clock. Often, Italian shops are daily meeting points of people living in the neighborhood. They buy whatever product the store sells while they indulge in gossips, news, business or even planning future activities between each other.

My local flavors include the show all the fishermen put out on the seafood bank along the promenade in Bari, the main city of Puglia. My group will enjoy watching them opening live shell-fish, will get a real amusement hearing them making loud and colorful comments on who has the best fish of the Adriatic Sea and will feel enticed to try some of those delicious morsel of row fish, wine and bread. Puglia is the only region in Italy where people are accustomed to eat row fish, even if the price is as high as 50-60-70 Euro per Kilo.

As a local born in those parts, my work as a tour guide into art, architecture, history and local flavors will be easy. I am planning to show the area on foot and by a private bus. Walking around the streets is the best way to learn the customs of a country. My group will admire the beautiful Mediterranean architecture and learn some insight of the local history. They will learn that balconies are not just an appendix of their flat, but also places for eating outdoor, gardening and exchanging a conversation with the next neighbor. They will admire fashionable people, pick up some folkloric slang or……a lover. Well….., Italy is the country that will enrich you in every sense.

To register for my trip click here, I still have room for April 15, 2013 : https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-2
Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

PDots2Valentina Cirasola will host two trips a year to Italy with the intention of showing Italy with the eyes of a designer born in those parts and let people experience the ”wheel of emotions” don’t even know exist. She will take her groups to the non-commercial Italy, areas not beaten down by massive tourism. Valentina will guide the tours through art, architecture, food, shopping and special adventures organized for people who want to live it up!

Check out her books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Mystery In History | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

History unfolded before my eyes yesterday morning. Never in millions of years I would have thought of assisting to such an important event in my life.
Pope Benedict XVI left his Papacy for good after announcing his resignation fifteen days ago. It was shocking news, no other Popes after Pope Celestine the 5th had ever resigned since that year in 1250.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

(Photo: Free Documentation License Kancelaria Prezydenta RPprezydent.pl )

Strangely has it seems, the Vatican was not ready to keep a Pope in retirement needing new staying accommodations, medical assistance, a new set of clothes, furniture and servants. Usually Popes don’t resign, they die and go down in history, that’s how they mark the end of their duty towards the Church. Now seamstresses are working on his new dresses, he will wear the white “zimarra” without the cape, new shoes of different colors are in the making and the new apartment in the Vatican’s nunnery convent is the remodeling phase, where he will spend the rest of his life in seclusion.

 

The Pope left us all puzzled and in doubt that there is more to this story than his frail health and advancing age. The Pope’s high power CEOs and media have said the Pope is not sick, just very fatigued. Today’s resignation created a huge precedence setting new rules in the Vatican. This could mean that in the future, a Pope might resign anytime he feels like, if for whatever reason gets tired of this highly important job, or the pressure of carrying-on duty and responsibility towards the followers becomes too heavy. He can tell the world “I have had enough of you now, good-bye, I go shrivel up in my little corner”. Furthermore, it means that any corporation or high power government can order the next Pope to step down at anytime, using the excuse of a bad health as a cover-up. This gesture of resigning was wrong, it has undermined the Catholic Church and diminished the role of the Pope in the service of the Christian community. How two Popes are going to exist until Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be alive? This was not an act of courage, it was simply wrong. Perhaps 100 years from now, posterity will know the real reason that forced him to resign. For the moment, we cannot help feeling abandoned.

Castel Gandolfo(Photo: Castel Gandolfo https://www.tourinrome.com/it/tour-castel-gandolfo-e-benedizione-papale)

Castel Gandolfo window(Photo: Porter’s Office at Papal Summer Villa – http://orbiscatholicussecundus.blogspot.ca)

The ceremony of the Pope’s transfer to Castel Gandolfo by helicopter was solemn and emotional. Castel Gandolfo is a beautiful large mansion built around the 17th Century owned by the Gandolfo’s family and later expropriated by the Vatican, as the Gandolfo’s could not pay their high debts towards the Vatican. The house faces the Lake Alban and sits on the Alban hills of the Roman countryside. Ever since it became the Pope’s vacation residence, the Swiss Guards guarded the house and the main door always kept open.

Swiss Guards Corp
(Photo: Swiss Guards – http://www.catholicjediacademy.com/search/label/Swiss%20Guard)

Since 1506 the Swiss Guards have been in service of the Pope only, no other person or office in the State of the Vatican. Their colorful uniform made of tri-color combination orange, blue and red, conceals highly trained snipers and combat soldiers. Yesterday in their formal uniforms their duty was over. At 8:00 pm sharp the Swiss Guards closed Castel Gandolfo’s doors as a symbol that the Papacy is empty and their duty is over. The Vatican’s Gendarmerie took over Castel Gandolfo’s security. This ceremony, unique in its genre, had never happened before. Castel Gandolfo did not even exist in the year 1250 when Pope Celestine the 5th resigned and neither did T.V. to project these historic images in the world. I really witnessed history in the making!

 

Pope'sRedShoes(Photo: AFF)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, as he will be called from today, will no longer wear the famous red loafer, reserved only for the reigning Pope. His gold ring, the “Ring of the Fisherman”, decorated with a depiction of St. Peter in a boat casting his net, with the name of the reigning Pope around it and made only for him will no longer be in use. The goldsmith will create a new ring for the next Pope with a new seal.

Pope Benedict XVI Ring
(The ring of the Fisherman found on:
The Ring of the Fisherman or the Fisherman’s Ring (Pope Benedict XVI’s ring as Pope)

We feel a lot of empathy and wish Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI light and internal peace, but we can’t help feeling lost. A new era is coming. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val:FarfalleStampValentina Cirasola, Italian born, designer and author decided to live as an Italian outside Italy. At times she talks about politics and writes about major events of her country, expressing only her opinion as a form of pain releasing, or amusement, no other intentions. Please check out her books available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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

Stuck In The Groove | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Hoops, I didn’t even notice to have been gone since Christmas and my page seems stuck in the groove! Pardon.
Well, last year my Thursdays disappeared often out of my weeks, catapulting me straight into the Saturdays and weekends didn’t even appear on the horizon of my calendar. To me it meant one thing: time for regrouping, regenerating and detoxing from the Internet. Literally, I abandoned my studio and this time I was the one who disappeared. Now, I am wondering, why the year is new, I am one year older, but my office has the same organized mess, the same décor looking at me and the same dust onto which I can write the story of my life, especially after my short absence.
anniversary-1x

No, I am not stuck in the groove, the year has started well and I am very much alive and kicking.
This week, I made a third anniversary flying with WordPress. It has been a great experience reading all of you bloggers and making new friends.



 

I have received also the “Shine On” Award from A MisBeahaved Woman  http://misbehavedwoman.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/shine-on – THANK YOU, I am honored and I accept.  Please read her interesting blog on social issues, she is really good.

shineon-awardWith the Awards come the rules. Here are the ones for the Shine On Award.

1.) Show appreciation of the blogger who nominated you and link back to them in your post.

2.) Add the award logo to your blog.

3.) Share 7 things about yourself.

4.) Pass the award on to 5-10 other bloggers you admire.

and here the winners:

http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com – Photography and stories.

http://ohtheplaceswesee.com – they are husband and wife who decided to live somewhere else a month at a time.

http://algarveblog.net – a British expatriate to Portugal.

http://wheresmybackpack.com –  She says: “anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all”.

http://taylorjorjorian.wordpress.com – Photographic Surreal Impressionism

http://grandmothermusings.com – Jamie is a sweet teacher.

Please go visit them, enjoy their reading and make new friends. The world is full of people we have not met yet. Happy 2013 to all, hoping this year will treat us very nicely.

To find 7 things to say about me it’s a hard task to do, but I will do my best.

  1. I have always liked to eat and manage to keep a good figure to suit my bone structure. I have eaten a Mediterranean diet since I was born and don’t even get closer to junk food. People who know me call me “A Good Fork”. My father used to say that was better to clothe me than feed me.
  2. Growing up in my Italian family, food choices did not exist and neither did democracy in the family nucleus. The heads of the family made up their own laws and we kids had to obey. Today, I go into people’s homes and find that kids can choose what they want to eat, as if they are at a private restaurant, tell the parent what to do and even get paid to do chores!
  3. I am not a mechanical person like most of my women friends are. If something breaks it will stay broken unless someone fixes it.
  4. I love Opera. When I am sitting in those red velvet chairs, I transport myself to a different world and era and get totally oblivious to anything around me, but often asked myself how I would react if a fire happened while I am totally hypnotized by the opera notes.
  5. I am an acute observer. I see things people miss easily. I can sit at a café’ for hours just to observe and hear people’s conversations.
  6. I don’t get bored easily, stupid people get bored, but time wasters get on my nerves easily.
  7. I don’t shop at corporations, I shop at small stores and I am very faithful to them if they know how to treat me right.


welcome-to-my-a-to-z-challenge-2I am participating in the A to Z challenge on any subject, mine will be on HOME from A to Z.
I will give myself one year to write funny and not so funny stories, tips and stuff related to the home projects and behind the scene happenings.

Let’s have a fantastic year and let’s not get stuck in the groove of time! Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.Valentinadesigns.com 

 

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

ValOperaStampValentina Cirasola is an interior designer, in business since 1990 and a former fashion designer.
She helps people realizing their dream spaces in homes, offices, interiors, exteriors, restaurants and more. She is also the author of three books all available 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

The Right Way | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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A couple of days ago, Joanne Mathis interviewed me on her BlogTalkRadio show for a talk on the “Taste of Italy” as the launch for my 2013 three trips packages to Italy based on my three books. The trips are in the making in conjunction with various establishments in Italy. Soon, I will be ready to take registrations.

Some parts of the radio talk were really funny, as most of the time happens when talking about Italy, a country, which thrives with free-spirit people and lives on not so many rules. During my next radio talk in October, with Joanne Mathis again, I will highlight some of the things and customs not very proper for foreigners and other useful tips for travelers to Italy.
We were really laughing on the show and having a good time on what Italians consider the “right way”.

• In Italy the woman walks on the right side of the man and inside of the sidewalk near the building and not near the street. It’s an old custom to protect the woman from dangers, still used today.

• To drive in Italy one must think and act like a racecar driver. Accidents are fatal on freeways, where speed limit is not respected much, but are rare in the cities, because our cities were built in the Middle Ages, therefore streets are truly small, often have only one or two lanes, but one must know how to get disentangled to avoid causing a huge traffic jam. Driving through an intersection, one must give the right away, meaning must yield to cars coming from the right, unless otherwise noted by street signals.

• At a dinner party, the man of the house always sits at one of the head table and the wife on the opposite head table. The wife changes her seat to the right of the men of the house when there are special guests. In this case, usually the male special guest sits at the opposite head table across from the man of the house and his wife on his right. In the Middle Age, the women’s place was set at the right of the men as a form of respect and to receive morsels of food the man cut for her and presented on the tip of a knife. Women did not cut their own food. Mind you this was when tableware did not exist yet.

• In Italy we stir coffee to the right, clockwise.

• Woman sleeping with man: she usually sleeps towards the wall and not towards the entry door to the room, often her place falls on the right side of her man.
• When a woman is in the bus, metro, or in a taxi with a man, the man gets off first to help the woman getting off, just in case her heels get caught in something, or some absent-minded person pushes her out.

• When we greet people, we kiss on both cheeks, starting with the right cheek, so it is my right cheek to your right cheek and then left to left.

Italy is a very modern country and women are also living a very modern, hectic life as everywhere in the world, but certain things have remained untouched. The respect toward women and wanting to protect them is very high.

If you like to listen to my radio talk and laugh with us, it will take only 40 minutes of your time. Enjoy it:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/mathisinteriors/2012/08/28/valentina-cirasola-artist-designers-and-things-oh-my

Ciao,
Valentina

www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina 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 beaten down by massive tourism. Valentina will guide the tours through art, architecture, food, shopping and special adventures organized for people who want to live it up! Valentina’s third book is in the printing process. ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors will be soon on Amazon with her others two books:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

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

 



Christmas Markets Under The Stars | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Today December 8th the Catholic world celebrates the Virgin Mary Immaculate Conception marking the official opening of the Christmas holidays. The Catholic dogma believes the name Immaculate (pure, the purest of the angels, innocent) was given to Mary when the angels announced to her that she to had been chosen to become the mother of Jesus through the Holy Spirit without any human contact. Up to that moment, Mary lived a life without any original sin, nor mortal or venial sins, thus she had that special privilege to become the mother of Jesus.
The celebration of Mary Immaculate Conception was introduced in the Roman calendar in 1476  and since then Christmas holidays start with this celebration in anticipation of the birth of Jesus. On this day Catholics are expected to fasten for the entire day until the evening. Around 7:00 pm they can sit down and have a really scrumptious meal with different kinds of meats, panzerotti, some stuffed pasta like tortellini or ravioli, fried or cooked vegetables, but mostly rich filling food, good wines and typical Christmas sweets.

On this day, most of all the cities in Italy and Catholic Europe will have an area of the city designated to Christmas street markets. The market will be open for business all day and all night until midnight or 1:00 am, every day until Christmas Eve and in some cities the market will reopen after the first of January for a few days until the Epiphany. Giving Christmas gift to kids is a fairly new custom. Up until twenty years ago, more or less, kids received their gifts the night of Epiphany, January sixth. For Christmas they would get some new clothes and special home-made sweets. The adults celebrated with special food, special wines consumed with family and friends. Christmas was for kids only.

At the street markets, especially at night with all the flickering lights, the atmosphere is very Christmassy and sweet. It is December after all, the air is fizzy and cold, perfect for hot cocoa or warm brandy. Women are bundled up in fur coats and boots, kids are wrapped in woolly scarves, hats and heavy clothes looking like petit Michelin men. Some vendors’ kiosks are filled with curious arts and craft, some have specialties food and some sell Christmas delicacy or sweets. There are music and street musicians playing their favorite instrument, but what will catch your eyes is the willingness of people to leave computers and TV’s at home and come out in the streets to enjoy the evening with their kids, kids’ friends, families, to  meet people they have never seen before and to shop at small artisans, where they can find unique gifts. I also noticed the gentleness of people in this time of the year. It is kind of puzzling to me why some people are only nice at Christmas time.

Here in the States, I have seen and experienced many different kinds of Christmas celebrations, but I have never seen a nighttime Christmas market. The closest I got to this idea last week was the market organized in the courtyard of the International German School in my area. I was the only author in a kiosk with books for sale, all others kiosks displayed hand-made art and craft items, jewelry, pottery, ceramics and German food. It was an enjoyable evening, despite of the cold wing and my frozen feet. Kids gathered on stage to sing so graciously Christmas carols in German language, the adults instead played modern rock and roll music.

Both of my books sold well that evening, my easy and healthy recipes from Puglia, my home land of Italy, will delight people’s tables this holiday season and will make a nice addition to their Christmas specialties. Both books are available here in this site on the Books page and on Amazon.
Just in case you are in a bind and need my help in decorating your holiday table, just leave your name in the box, I will answer in 24 hours time and I will be delighted to help you. Ciao,
Valentina

www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Red Fascinator copyValentina 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 she the author of the forthcoming book ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors on the subject of Colors, due to be published very soon. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnq8baaAq0M

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
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No Globalization For Me | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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(Photos above and below Altamura bajers:  http://www.visitsitaly.com/puglia/altamura/altamura-pix.htm)

Last week, at the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco, I concluded the series of events dedicated to the celebration of “October Month Of Italian Style” Second year. Last event made in symbiosis with Italian filmmaker Nico Cirasola, my homonymous and not related, was aiming at shining the light on the southern Italian region of Puglia, where both Nico and myself were born and bringing to America our roots, culture and food.
As a self-proclaimed ambassador of my land of Puglia, I centered my talk on the reasons why being an interior designer I didn’t write a design book first, instead I turned to writing two books on food and cooking.

 

The reason is simple, I explained. I had the feeling when I arrived in USA that not many people in America knew about Puglia as much as they knew about Rome, Florence, Venice and Cinque Terre or Tuscany. That is understandable, tourists always have limited time during traveling, thus they select well-known spots to fill their trips and satisfy their knowledge. However, it irritated me every time I had to explain where Puglia is located and it seemed that if I had come from Mars it would have not made any difference.

(http://www.comuni-italiani.it/072/004/foto)

Italy is made of 22 regions and everyone has contributed to the history and the making of the republic of Italy. My talk continued with flashes of history, architecture, traditional costume and new habits. It ended with the presentation of my books and the benefits of the southern Italian cuisine, so much appreciated in the world without the world even knowing it. In fact most of the Italian cuisine abroad is based on the southern cooking with our olive oil, the “green gold” of our land, as we call it.
My talk was about amusing and informing my audience and as the ambassador the only thing I wanted to do was to encourage people to plan a trip to Puglia and experience my roots and my culture.
That’s why I felt a mission toward my country region to write two cookbooks before a design book.

Nico Cirasola showed his docu-film entitled “Focaccia Blues” with English subtitle.
Nico’s documentary is a hilarious recount of how a small bread bake house in the small town of Altamura was able to induce McDonald, the American fast food giant, to close its doors after only a couple of years of operation. The only McDonald in the world that has closed business!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x_kCavFsbE&feature=related

 

The small town of Altamura in Puglia is renowned for its tasty, succulent focaccia and bread. For its inhabitants was almost an offense to their traditional food. Of course at first McDonald drew attention to its joint, it was a new food in town, it was yellow, red and big and it was American! Kids flocked to the big M, attracted by the games and French fries in a paper basket. After watching American scenes on T.V. or at the movie theatres, the big Mac now was a reality in their life too. The adult population of Altamura was willing to try it, but with a reservation. In their minds the aroma of fresh-baked focaccia next-door at Digesu’s bread bake house was unsurpassable. After a few times of trying McDonald’s food, people just decided to abandon it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WantccqAFwM&feature=related

The filmmaker Nico Cirasola, who is an interesting and fun person, did not intend to criticize the fast food giant, but to tell a story “a cuor leggero” lightly and heartfelt on how simple food won a silent battle against processed food. The filmmaker’s dry view of the flat land of Puglia mixed with the dry local humor resulted perfect to describe the simplicity of people who have drawn for centuries from the land the resources of their healthy cooking and diet.
As the N.Y Times reported when McDonald closed:
“McDonald’s didn’t get beat by a baker. McDonald’s got beat by a culture.”
And that to me is the essence of what I am expressing here. My southern Italian food is excellent, simple, healthy, once you get used to it, it is difficult to stray away.
My Puglia style of cooking keeps people young, energetic and spunky, with that comes all the positive energy you need.
Focaccia eats hamburger, Puglia food versus processed food wins 10 to 0.

I have embraced globalization even before the word was coined. I have learned to accept other cultures and to be part of the moving world. However, traditions need to stay alive and when it comes to my identifying origins, I know who I am and what I can give to the globalized world. I prefer to keep myself Italian and Pugliese in my cooking and in my style.

The evening in Puglia with Cirasola & Cirasola and Focaccia Blues Film at the San Francisco Italian Cultural Institute concluded as I said earlier the 2011 events of “October Month Of Italian Style”.
Next year events will be bigger and better and will mark year number three.

If you ever need to know more about a trip to Puglia, or even how to decorate in Puglia style (it will be the subject of next article), I shall be here prompt and ready to tell you all about it, just leave your name in the box below. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos, outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms, great rooms and entertainment rooms. She is the author of two Italian regional cuisine books available on Amazon 

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”.

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

 

Italy In Small Bites | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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This year is the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy as a Republic, such a small country, such a concentrate of art and history, a country where even a shoe shine is an artist in his own way.
Italian emigrants and their strong patriotism have brought many Italian products around the world, shown them, talked about and place them on the market. They have made the “made in Italy” trade mark something to be proud of. It is a symbol of sophistication, elegance, purity and simple classicism.
Italian style of this century is very modern, very colorful and linear while Italians still enjoy walking around and breathing antiquity. The streets of Italy are very historical, but fashion, interiors and cars are not.
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

The architectural style of Tuscan farmhouses have been copied in California by the boat load and turned into a mansions style, but the bucolic Tuscan scenes cannot be reproduced. Tuscan style is not about a large home empty of emotions and atmospheres, but it comprises a whole life style, it means going to market everyday, cook fresh food, neighbors popping by for coffee unannounced, evening dinner with family and friends, taking afternoon naps, cultivate the land and most importantly being surrounded by the warmth of the people occupying the house.


Italians put a lot of passion when it comes to design eating vessels, an old custom that goes back to the Roman Empire. Pleasing the eyes before the palate and pleasing the palate with fresh, uncomplicated, nor manipulated food. It’s like a game of pleasures, one following the other as close as possible.

What to say about the decorative art of tile making for flooring, kitchen backsplash, bathrooms, or entryways? Italians have an incredible ability to create stunning combinations of material old and new that no one else can do, or combinations of colors and patterns within the material no one else can even think about. Ideas don’t just come because Italians are clever, their ideas are imbedded in their blood through years of tradition and history. In my design projects I can sleep soundly when I employ Italian tile setters and stone fabricators, I know that even if I don’t observe their work, it will be done to perfection. Their clinical eye is a safe heaven. (Photo right: Romeo Cuomo, Italian Ceramic Art – Via Pinterest).

Fashion is a strong weapons for Italians. We dress very fashionable every day even to go to the market. We feel an immense pleasure and satisfaction to be admired by others, it highly gratifies our self-esteem and with that comes the elegant, flirtatious behavior in both men and women. Fashion is used in office and home décor, but in these areas our fashion is classic, classic contemporary, classic modern, classic eclectic, that type of classic that will not go out of vogue in a couple of years, just to be clear.
(Photo of Sophia Loren – http://currentlycrushing.com/sophia-lorens-dolce-gabbana-lipstick).

The thrill of driving an Italian sport car, or simply seeing one roaring by at the speed of light is revitalizing. I hope Italy continues to make them, even if it is only for the pleasure of few lucky ones. (Photo Lamborghini Countach -http://www.seriouswheels.com/car-terms.htm)

Food is no exception to the country’s beauty. Anywhere in Italy food is excellent, even in a “hole in the wall”. Eat Italian food to stay fit and young. In foreign countries Italian restaurants are considered the best. Olive oil, prosciutto, Parmigiano cheese, pasta, cheeses and wines are the most exported food out of Italy. All of us expatriates, laborious, hard workers Italian people, entrepreneurial at heart have contributed to the good reputation of our high quality products.

This 150th birthday of Italy’s unification as a Republic comes at a time of world turmoil, shifting of economic power and natural disasters, but Italy is also fighting its own battle with its own government, high unemployment, poor immigrants from every where in the world arriving on the coasts of Italy by the thousand a day, causing an economic stress the country cannot support. The most dangerous battle facing Italy is the counterfeit of its original products which are being sold all over the world in the name of saving the cent.

(Photo Flap Sofa: http://living.corriere.it/arredamento/complementi/gallery/arredi-italia-3071678439-gallery)

Italy is a vibrant country, all this concentrate of beauty might be a hand full for someone, just take it in small bites, you will learn to love even the noise in the streets and the fatalism of its people. It is still the most charming country to visit and to return to.

As the professional who is always ready, I shall be prompt and ready to help you with any of your needs, whether it will decorating, designing, or remodeling and if you like Italian architecture and décor in your home, I must be the one you should hire. Leave your name in the box below, I shall answer you in 24 hours time. As a new addition to my business, I offer design consultations on-line through Skype line. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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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 is a designer well-known to bring originality to people’s homes. As an Italian designer and true to her origins, she provides only the best workmanship and design solutions. Check her books on:
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

 

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