Arch Entryway To Little Italy

A door or an arch are both passages that take us from an exterior to an interior space or even into another space in time and history.
It was not too long ago, March 2015, when I was awarded for my participation in the design concept of the arch for the Little Italy in San Jose, CA.
A team of architect, builder, designer, iron worker, stone fabricator, cement layer, lighting designer, investors and many more people in the committee of the Little Italy city project worked at the unison to make this come true. It was a many years effort from all of us volunteering to build something that was in the hearts of older and younger generations of Italians immigrated to this country for the continuation of our culture and traditions, but also as a bridge between other ethnicities of the area.

Little Italy Arch, San Jose, CA

It was a beautiful moment when we finally saw the arch raised and illuminated. That day, a huge celebration in the streets defining the Little Italy area was in order. Many people attended the award ceremony and afterwards they danced in the streets at the tunes of mandolins, accordions, guitars and the voice of the Italian tenor Pasquale Esposito.

Full view of the Little Italy Arch, San Jose, CA

The piazzetta is now full of bricks of various sizes with the name of donors to remember them in the posterity. Since then, we organized grand galas to raise money for the future public works in the area, many merchants established shops, an art & craft festival takes place every August, every October people fill the streets dancing to the sounds of Italian music, eat Italian specialties and feel as if they are in Italy for one day. A Museum of Italian culture is currently being built.

Brick from donors layed in the Little Italy’s piazzetta

Bronze plaque installed on the base of the arch with all the names of professionals participating to the design concept.

The plaque I received at the award ceremony

The plaque I received for my contribution in the design concept of this arch is still in my studio, I see it every day and proudly reminds me that I made a difference in my community together with a lot of other generous and professional people.

Myself celebrating with Italian tenor Pasquale Esposito

It’s always a pleasure to be embraced by the handsome Pasquale Esposito, our Italian tenor.
If you ever have the chance to be in this area, stop by the Little Italy, in San Jose, CA.

Dan Antion offers the opportunity to learn about doors in the world with his Thursday Door Challenge, please visit with us, it’s fun to see various interpretations of doors. Ciao,
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Copyright © 2022 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel.
Get a copy of her books here: Amazon and Barnes&Noble


Monument | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

This week WP photo challenge comes at the right moment, in fact next month I will lead a group of tourists to Puglia, Italy where among many places we will visit the monument in the town of Barletta that represents the challenge between the French Army and the Italian Army in 1503.

The monument is a wine cellar, better a tavern as it was called then, where boisterous soldiers would get refreshed with wines and after a few drinks their abilities to fight was challenged with offensive words that most often ended up in a fight. Two kings from France and Spain, Louis XII of France and Ferdinand II of Aragon, signed the treaty of Granada under which they agreed to equally share the Kingdom of Naples. The treaty apparently didn’t spell out clearly the terms for both armies occupying the same territory, thus created hostilities between the two armies. They always broke out in small fights on the interpretation of the treaty that would best suit them.

(Some of the photos are courtesy of Proloco Barletta)

Sometimes, instead of fighting in the open field, they resorted to challenges in the field of chivalry, often held in the town of Barletta. On Feb.13, 1503 the most important fight between the French Army and the Italian Army serving under the Spanish crown decided the future of the territory. Thirteen Italian knights and many French knights fought a chivalrous duel resulting in the winning of the Italians led by Ettore Fieramosca. Today, every year on Feb.13 the reenactment of that historical event comes alive and the town of Barletta experiences life in the 1500 century, tastes food of the era and admires beautiful fashion parading down the road.

In May I will take my traveling group to visit the tavern and inhale the flavor of chivalry, when honor was the most important thing. Ciao,



Copyright © 2014 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val Admiring World Valentina 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

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.

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

Castel Gandolfo window(Photo: Porter’s Office at Papal Summer Villa –

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 –

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,

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

Floralia | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

P15e5.1 Unframed
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain – Triumph of love , by Francesco Pesellino (1450), celebrates the arrival of spring and the flowering associated with May)

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:

“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:

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.

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.

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

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
Sins Of A Queen


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