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. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/monument

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,

Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

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

Things That Changed Me| Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

I don’t know what triggered the memory of London trip to come to my mind this week, but it was sweet and nostalgic. I arrived in London in the early ‘80s all dressed up like an Italian model, constricted in the latest fashion trend dictated in Italy, soon to find out that London is about freedom of expression. Something I was not familiar in Italy, my homeland. If fashion for instance says this year the color black is in fashion, like an army of obedient soldiers, everybody will wear black whether it looks good or not, then black will show up even in home accessories, kitchen ware, (I hated the black plates when they were indeed in fashion), bathroom and bed linens, illumination and everything else.

In London all this doesn’t exist, everyone wear what they want. Carnaby St. was the center of revolutionary fashion from Mary Quant’s mini skirt we are still wearing today 50 years later to the underground music of the Rolling Stones when they played at Marquee Club and where the swinging London lived fun days. I shopped in Carnaby St. and got rid of my traditional clothes forever!

I was pleasantly enthralled with the street life and entertainment I had never seen in Italy up to that moment, except for food markets. At Covent Garden, the man in chains was really intriguing. In a minute time and without anybody’s help he untangled himself from the chains he had wrapped around his body. Street players and minstrels filled the air with fun, laughs and madrigal music from ancient England. Life in London was much more colorful in my eyes than the life I was accustomed to in Italy. Oh, how I loved the freedom in London!

Nowadays in Italy many things have changed, there are a lot of street events, entertainments, art exhibitions, music, flea markets, you name it they have it. The city administrators  have realized that creating street events would increase store sales and help growing the economy, thus copied our neighboring countries and made their own street fun.

Back in England, one night at 11:00 o’clock, I crossed on a pedestrian zone with a red light. All of the sudden I heard the whistle of a Bobbie who scolded me for crossing with the red light. Where did he come from? The street was deserted, I was the only one there. I did it many times in Italy even in the traffic and nobody cared, I could not understand why I deserved a ticket and a ticket I received.
Upon my return home, trying to tell my co-nationals in Italy to respect city rules, to respect city vegetation, learn to eat different food, or dress to suit own personality was a huge undertake.

I traveled England by sleeper train from London to Scotland stopping at major places. Going toward Scotland, I fell asleep passed my stop and I didn’t get off at Inverness. When I woke up the train was at a full stop in a station.
I didn’t know where I was, for sure I must have ended up in the wrong place, I thought. The train keeper came and offered me breakfast. I was at the last station where I needed to be, they let me sleep for a while and then woke me up with breakfast of my choice. I was mesmerized of the gentle treatment I received from British people.

The England trip opened up my mind. It was my first time visiting an Anglo-Saxon country, up to that moment I had traveled in Mediterranean countries similar in customs to mine, where life is laid back, tomorrow is a better day, rules are merely suggestions and dressing up, no matter how beautiful and elegant it may be, it is always very constrictive. I was forever changed and I welcomed the changes.
What experience changed you? Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2014 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved Val Leopard

Valentina will host one or 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

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

Dressing Up For Traveling | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

luggage(Photo Flickr: Vintage Luggage Parmiters Antiques Southsea)

You are ready to go overseas, perhaps to a country you have never visited before, but hopefully, you have read about it to get acquainted with the customs and habits of its people. Not knowing what to expect the first time outside our familiar environment, my feeling tells me to “blend in” as much as possible. Obviously, if I plan a trip to Japan I am not going to wear a kimono, or for a trip to India a colorful sari will not look good on me, but I will wear comfortable clothes that I can coordinate or layer according to any occasions and weather.

Shoes are a dead give away of the traveler’s origin. I purposely leave out the unattractive “tank shoes” those tennis/running shoes every tourist wear. However, traveling with new shoes is painful, leave them home until they are well-worn. Pack instead comfortable leather shoes, polished well, flat, loafer or low hill (for women), to let the feet breathe and avoid headaches. If feet hurt, head hurts too.

woman-with-luggage

Photo: Travel | TravelInsurance.org

About the unexpected – One never knows what will happen when traveling. What if you lose your luggage, or the traveler sitting next to you in the plane spills food on you, can you get dressed when you arrive at the destination?
In your carry-on pack, a couple of changes of clothes including intimate apparel and toiletries until your luggage is found. In your carry-on put a list of everything you have in the checked-in luggage. It will be easier to claim the content if the luggage is totally lost and easier to buy some of the items wherever you will be.
Carry more than one credit card, just for your own protection and your bank’s phone numbers.
Always carry a photocopy of your ID or passport.
Carry phone numbers and locations of your country’s Embassy or Consulate.
Fly prepared!

Folding versus rolling – Roll tight and neat every piece of clothes you intend to take, making sure not to create creases and align side-by-side with each other until the luggage is filled. This is a proven method to get more pieces in and never have wrinkled clothes at the arrival point. Fashion doesn’t have to be painful. Thanks to today’s designers choice of fabrics and style, we can achieve a star look regardless of the class of travel.

Don’t stand out – Watching films is like watching the world as a spectator through a window, we can observe poor travel customs and learn from them. In the movie-comedy Monte Carlo, a traveling friend with Selena Gomez (main protagonist) impersonating rich and famous Cornelia, takes her stiletto shoes off in the street while visiting Paris by bus ending up walking bare feet.

That is not a proper behavior, stiletto shoes are good for sitting down events and not for traveling, but also in many countries is not acceptable to be bare feet in the street, if you are a woman.
Wearing a lot of gold jewelry can make you a target for theft and personal attacks. How would the viewer know that your gold jewelry is real or custom? Don’t offer the opportunity.

Smart dressing – Unless you are going to hiking, fishing, biking, or some sort of sports trip where only clothes dedicated to that sport are needed, traveling in cities requires a different kind of planning. It’s easier not to be spotted as a tourist when traveling abroad wearing smart clothes. It is actually a better way to receive a higher quality service or upgrades in planes and hotels.

Travel Abroad
(Photo old suitcase – http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/travel/images/31302401/title/suitcase-photo)

My travel to Puglia, Italy with a group is coming up April 15, 2013 – https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-2/ (click here to get info on the trip). I will gather all the local participants in a restaurant to advice them on does and don’ts of our trip together and I will do the same with a Skype call with the distant participants. Traveling prepared avoids a lot of headaches. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 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 to 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

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

Come To Puglia | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Through the years, many of you have expressed to desire to visit Puglia with me, a local who was born and raised in those parts. After putting my energy into the writing and publishing of three books, the time has finally come.

I have listened to your wishes and self-proclaimed a cultural promoter of the region of Puglia. Bari is the airport you will land in Puglia.
Puglia is a region on the East side of Italy on the Adriatic Sea, made of warm people, tasty food and free thinkers. You will see palm trees and a flat land with white terrace roofs. You might have the impression to have taken the wrong plane to Africa, but not at all, you will be in Puglia where homes are built on the foamy coastline of the blue-green Adriatic Sea and where the waves make embroideries with the sky, the air is salty, the summer heat is sultry and humid, women exude sexuality from every pores and well…the rest of the people are as laid back as in a tropical island.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

 

In Bari airport, the largest city in the South, my team and myself will greet you with smiles. Each trip has been built around the title of each book I have written. My second book – “Sins Of A Queen” – just to talk about one of the trips’ theme, gave me the inspiration to take my guests into a lavish living while they are in Italy and experience incredible treatments with the most natural products from this land of olives, fruits and grains.
I will call this trip: “Let’s Travel Into The Sinful Luxury Of A Queen”.

The Lungomare of Bari, a romantic promenade on the Adriatic Sea will be waiting for us to drive along in vintage cars, dressed in vintage clothes, while soaking the fresh sea salt air, enjoying the view and a “gelato affogato” (literally ice cream drowned in a secret spirit). The promenade stretches to Monopoli and Polignano, two quaint towns perched on the cliffs of the Adriatic Sea. We might reach them in vintage cars, or we might take a boat ride coast-to-coast ending for dinner in a fabulous restaurant built-in the cave on the cliff. It will be magical!

Rudolph Valentino is on our route to the stalagmites and stalactites caves, thus we will stop in Castellaneta to visit the museum dedicated to the actor. Did you know Valentino was born in Hollywood as an actor, but his native town was Castellaneta, in Puglia? His town was an agricultural and unknown town even to the rest of Italy. He died August 23, 1926 and only a few years ago, his town counsels finally dedicated him a statue and a museum.
The Castle in Gioia del Colle will disclose us the intricate romance between Bianca Lancia and Emperor Frederick II, which as most passionate stories, ended up in a tragedy.
In between visits to the most exquisite Baroque architecture, Valentino’s museum and other cultural events, I have planned some fun shopping in local markets for the latest fashion clothes/accessories, where my guests can buy affordable priced items. We will also pay visits to local artists’ shops, where they produce one-of-a-kind high-class handbags, gold jewelry, custom jewelry, or stunning glass lighting, furniture and home accessories. My function as a designer is also to show all the beauty Italian artists are still creating for the world.

(Photo above: Gorgo di Fuoco Restaurant)

Food and wine will also play a large role. Going to Puglia and not enjoying the earthy food, as locals do, would be a crime. It will not be a common restaurant eating, I have used my fantasy. We will have one dinner inside of dismissed wood barrels of wine, where you can still smell the must of wine impregnated in the wood. On another day, an opera singer will delight our dinner. We might have a rustic picnic in the country with a donkey ride, or we might cook with a local chef in the kitchen of our farmhouse where we will stay. How about a massage with the green-gold of the land: olive oil?

My trips’ aim is to inform and entertain and certainly allow the guests to relax while in Italy with unforgettable experiences. My trip will not be a trip in a bus loaded with tourists, packing and unpacking every day and make stops to bathrooms. My goal along with my Italian team’s goal is to take care of our guests, giving them personal attention, while we are still together in a group setting. My intention is to show Italy with the eyes of a designer born in those parts and not the commercial Italy of the mass tourism. I want to show you the heart of Italian life, the immediacy of every day living with a lot of fantasy.

You will get to know Puglia through art, architecture, food, shopping and special adventures organized for people who want to live it up!
This is not a tour de force!
My goal is to allow our guests to experience a wheel of emotions they don’t even know exist. My team in Puglia and I want them to never forget the warmth and hospitality of Puglia people and create a relationship with our travelers for the long haul.

Trip date: April 15-24, 2013 – 10 days, 9 nights.
Registration closing date: March 15, 2013.

This price will include:
a. Two meals a day with water, juices and a couple of wine glass a person. Extra food or drinks, or extra drinks for the road, are not on the house.
b. Lodge, private transportation, transfer from and to Bari airport.
c. Private bus for our excursions.
d. Visits to museums or exhibitions.
e. Gratuities
f. Cooking classes and chef fees (if applicable).
g. Vintage cars, or Opera singer.

Please contact me directly for prices: designsvalentina@yahoo.com 

Plane tickets and insurance are not included.
Again, this is a trip to realize how short life is and to learn how to enjoy it. This experience will change you. Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


As a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, my native land, it is my intention to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. I want to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism. Through stories of art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, I want them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia!
Check out my books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

A Trip Not To Forget | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Here they come, they are landing in a country of warm people, tasty food and free thinkers. The palm trees are showing their majestic leave tops to the people in the plane and the flat land with white terrace roofs might give the impression that my travelers have taken the wrong plane to Africa, but not at all.

The participants to my trips are approaching the foamy coastline of the blue-green Adriatic Sea, where the waves make embroideries with the sky, the air is salty, where the summer heat is sultry and humid, women exude sexuality from every pores and well…the rest of the people are as laid back as in a tropical island.

They have landed in Puglia, a southern region in the East Coast of Italy and this is the view and the perception the participants to my trips will receive when they will land in Bari airport, the largest city in the South. My team and myself will greet them with smiles. You see, each trip will have a theme and will be based on each book I have written.

My second book: “Sins Of A Queen” – just to talk about one of the trip’s themes, gave me the inspiration to take my guests into a lavish living while they are in Italy and experience incredible treatments with the most natural products from this land of olives, fruits and grains.
This trip will be called: Let’s Travel Into The Sinful Luxury Of A Queen. Watch the video of the area we will visit.

The Lungomare of Bari, a romantic promenade on the Adriatic Sea will be waiting for us to drive along in vintage cars, dressed in vintage clothes, while soaking the fresh sea salt air, enjoying the view and a “gelato affogato” (literally ice cream drowned in a secret spirit). The promenade stretches to Monopoli and Polignano, two quaint towns perched on the cliffs of the Adriatic Sea. We might reach them in vintage cars, or we might take a boat ride coast-to-coast ending for dinner in a fabulous restaurant built-in the cave on the cliff. It will be magical! Rudolph Valentino is on our route to the stalagmites and stalactites caves, thus we will stop in Castellaneta to visit the museum dedicated to the actor. Did you know Valentino was born in Hollywood as an actor, but his native town was Castellaneta, in Puglia? It was an agricultural and unknown town even to the rest of Italy. He died August 23, 1926 and only a few years ago, his town councils finally dedicated him a statue and a museum.

The Castle in Gioia del Colle will disclose us the intricate romance between Bianca Lancia and Emperor Frederick II, which as most passionate stories, ended up in a tragedy.

In between visits to the most exquisite Baroque architecture, Valentino’s museum and other cultural events, I have planned some fun shopping in local markets for the latest fashion clothes/accessories, where my guests can buy affordably priced items. We will also pay visits to local artists’ shops, where they produce one-of-a-kind high-class handbags, gold jewelry, custom jewelry, or stunning glass lighting, furniture and home accessories. My function as a designer is also to show all the beauty Italian artists are still creating for the world.

Food and wine will also play a large role. Going to Puglia and not enjoying the earthy food, as locals do, would be a crime. It will not be a common restaurant eating, I have used my fantasy. We will have one dinner inside of dismissed wood barrels of wine, where you can still smell the must of wine  impregnated in the wood; on another day, an opera singer will delight our dinner in a different place; we might have a rustic picnic in the country with a donkey ride, or we might cook with a local chef in the kitchen of our farmhouse where we will stay.

How about a massage with the green-gold of the land: olive oil?

My three trips’ aim is to inform and entertain and certainly allow the guests to relax while in Italy with unforgettable experiences. My trips will not be trips in a bus loaded with tourists, packing and unpacking every day and make stops to bathrooms. My goal along with my Italian team’s goal is to take care of our guests, giving them personal attention, while we are still together in a group setting. I want to show a side of Italy not known to tourists, show the heart of Italian life, the immediacy of every day living with a lot of fantasy. The itinerary is outlined, the rooms, of course, will be reserved in advance, but the schedule will be free-flowing, not a severe schedule to respect with a timetable. This is not a tour de force. Our goal is to allow our guests to experience a wheel of emotions they don’t even know exist. We want them to never forget the warmth and hospitality of Puglia people and create a relationship with our travelers for the long haul.

Let’s Travel Into The Sinful Luxury Of A Queen – April 15-25, 2013  duration 10 days, 9 nights and everything included. Plane tickets and insurance are not included.
For further information, please contact me by email: valentinadesigns@comcast.net
I will keep sending various information from now to March 2013 until closing date. Stay tuned.

Just remember, this is not a tour de force, but a trip to realize how short life is and to learn how to enjoy it. This experience will change you! Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

As a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, my native land, it is my intention to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. I want to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism. Through stories of art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, I want them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia!
Check out my books 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

 



The Plate In The Middle | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

A few years ago, I was in Kyoto, Japan sitting in a restaurant with my friends and their friends to whom I got introduced in that moment. One of these new friends, a tall Japanese guy, wanted to welcome me, a blonde, blue eyes western woman visiting his country by showing me his appreciation with a special gesture. After a while we were sitting together enjoying each other company, the tall Japanese guy started to eat from my bowl of soup, truly surprising the rest of the company with this gesture.

Perhaps his behavior was too exuberant for being Japanese, or perhaps he really meant it. Later, my friends told me that his gesture was a sign of wanting to consolidate a new friendship, a creation of a tight bond that would last through the years.
(Above photo: One of my plates hand-painted in Italy – artist unknown).

Eating in someone’s plate in Japan means loyalty, trust, respect and it is an honor. That was his way of showing these feelings to me.
I really liked that very much. Never thought I was going to receive such a friendly treatment.

That moment brought me back in time when in Italy, my native country, people used to eat all together from a plate placed in the middle of the table. In every corner of the world, people do the same things, just like home, I thought.

Again, a few days ago, I was in a restaurant on American soil and a large plate of spaghetti was propped in the middle of the table to share with everyone in my party. These days, when I sit at a restaurant, sharing my dishes with the person I brought along is not always possible. Often, I go out with people I conduct business and it doesn’t seem right to share food in a friendly matter.
I am wondering though if this custom of sharing dishes is happening because so many cultures are living together, and we want to try everybody’s food, or because we feel the need to get closer to people.

As I said earlier this is not a new costume to me at all. I remember the painted large dish at the center of the table in my grandmother’s house and in all the families in the town of Italy where she lived. The plate was a simple hand-painted, huge size for hosting a large quantity of food for the entire family, mom, dad, all the kids, and the grandparents. Back then seniors lived in the family until their time on this earth expired.

The table setting was quite interesting. The hand-painted dish always took the middle of the table and it was filled with lunch or dinner food.
Each person had a fork, a wine glass, bread was sliced as needed and knives were placed loosely on the table for whoever needed them.
Everybody sat around the table and waited for the head of the family to sit as well. For the respect of that person, generally was the oldest person in the family, nobody would start eating until the person started first.

After the head of the family sat and dug the fork to get the first bite from the plate in the middle of the table, everybody dug in and ate from the same plate.
The last bite was reserved for the head of the family as well. Incredible, you might say and yet, I have lived in such an ancient society, even though I am not that old!

This seems unreal, almost a scene from a Medieval Shakespearean comedy, but less than 50 years ago this was a common scene in the South of Italy where I grew up. Everyday people, perhaps to brighten their days, ate in hand-painted, colorful dishware they bought at the street market. Nobles and wealthy people ate off of “chic white porcelain plates”.

Today modern Italians do not use hand-painted ceramic plates anymore for everyday use, nor for holidays either. They might hang them on kitchen walls for decorations, or they might place one small dish on a coffee table.
Italians just are not in love with such a beautiful antique art anymore. They love modern style, sleek, straight lines, no curlicues, and no fussy designs. The reason behind this is that Italians live and breathe antiquity every day.
In some cases, they live just across from famous buildings, statues, famous fountains, stairs, or Cathedrals and Corinthian capitals. All of that beauty is part of their everyday landscape, it is part of their lives. It’s just routine!

There are still many factories making hand-painted ceramics, but they are sold mostly to tourists. Tourists bring back to their countries the beauty of Italy. They find very chic eating off hand-painted Italian plates from Tuscany, Umbria, Puglia, and other regions.

Although Italians are very social people, convivial and relaxed around food, they also have distanced themselves from the custom of sharing food from the same plate. Here in America, very surprisingly, I am finding this costume back into my life and I do not know how to take it, I don’t know if I like it or not.

(Photo: https://www.pinterest.com/italianceramics/tile-murals-hand-painted-from-vietri)

I am thinking this is history repeating itself.

I am treasuring my hand-painted ceramics, as a matter of fact, every time I return from Italy, I hand carry in the plane a few hand-painted ceramic pieces.
I want a cheerful table whether I have a company or not, I want to surround myself with the beauty of my country and enjoy the colors of my heritage.

If you need help in locating a special hand-painted tabletop, or a custom-made backsplash for the kitchen, some specific plates patterns, I am here prompt and ready to help you with any of your needs, whether it will be decorating, designing, or remodeling. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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 regional Italian cuisine books, available here in this site on the Books page and in various other locations:
http://outskirtspress.com/ComeMiaNonna
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnq8baaAq0M
http://outskirtspress.com/SinsOfAQueen

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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