A Life With A View | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

I went to street markets and discussed food with the vendors, I tasted the food I will never see again (unfortunately) unless I return soon, I got drenched in colors, breathed the salty air of the Adriatic Sea and soaked the local traditions. I heard the patois I am so familiar with and amused myself listening to people speaking it. I made new friends, and I wrote a lot of travel notes. That was my travel to the South Riviera of Italy.

Remembering those days, feelings of rage and happiness run together now, I don’t even know if I belong there even though that is my native land, but on the other hand, I don’t feel I belong somewhere else either!

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

Lungomare Bari

Lungomare Bari

Along the wall of the military fort, it felt as if I was on the balcony of the Adriatic Sea. The Fort of Sant’Antonio Abate, a lookout tower since the first half of the twentieth century is the highest point of the old city. From there the gaze follows the entire layout of the medieval walls and the outline of the waterfront. People living up here enjoy the sound of the waves every day. The air was cool and fizzy, we kept climbing to the top, dusk was coming, maybe the wind was going to pick up speed, the Sea and the sky were going to be dark in unison.

 

Fortino Colors

Fortino Colors

I heard the passerby saying they would love to live here in these picture-perfect places. Of course, who wouldn’t? This small house sits on valuable land,  the circular entrance takes to the upstairs loggia and inside the house through small steps, it faces the Sea and has the best exposure to natural sunlight. People living here have a life with a view. It feels harmonious, it feels healthy. The sun’s energy welcomes them in the morning where the horizon meets the Sea and salutes them falling into the Sea at dusk. Magic!

Balconcino-Bari

Balconcino-Bari

Dusk caught up with us and suddenly we had a desire of the local focaccia, the top filled with fresh tomatoes, olives, oregano, course marine salt, the best olive oil and nothing else. It goes with a super chilled Peroni beer, which the local people prefer to drink out of a sweating glass bottle. At that moment, everyone was quiet, and I heard a total silence speaking in the beautiful rosy sunset background. The food here is so good that silence people!

Sei a Casa Sei a Bari

Photo: Sei a Casa Sei a Bari

Like all the good vacations, they must be short, intense with emotions and all must stop when everything is still pleasurable.

Focaccia Barese in Preparation

Focaccia Barese in Preparation

I returned to my California home and made the focaccia I ate on the Southern Italian Riviera. It was very good but not as good as the one I ate that evening at dusk on the Fort of Sant’Antonio Abate. Here, the water, the soil and the ingredients are so different, nothing will ever come the same as in Puglia, at least I am happy I can do it.

Geez, a month of vacation is never enough!
My European genes are calling. See you soon, Europe!
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

 

Copyright © 2019 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

 

Valentina with short hairAs a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, her native land, Valentina’s intention is to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. She wants to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism. Through stories of local customs, art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, she wants them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out her books on
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
The latest published book ©The Road To Top Of The World is a travel narrative on short stories of Puglia  – https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8

 

 

 

My Personal View Of A Far Away Place | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

 

With the release of my new book, I feel obliged to talk a bit about my hometown and offer the audience an unfiltered view of the city, just as I have always known it. Bari is a large sunny city in the South of Italy, located on the Adriatic Sea, six hours South of Venice and four hours East of Rome. It is the major city of the region of Puglia and it has been named the “Milano” of the South, without the fog and industrial smokestacks of Milano. Bari is lined with palm trees, embraced by warm weather, scorching, by some people’s standards, fresh fish, colorful people and a life of “dolce far niente” (sweet do nothing life).
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

People of Bari are warm, affectionate and sociable because the warm Mediterranean weather affects them. They know how to enjoy life, too much I say.
Their mornings start at the last minute when the notion of being late to work is a known fact. Too much traffic is always the excuse. Once they arrive and get briefly situated in their work post, it is already time for coffee. Around 10:00 am, coffee shops are brimming with people indulging in espresso, they like it hot, short and to the point, standing up at the bar counter, shooting the breeze with other colleagues while passionately tasting a fragrant cornetto (croissant). The talk during the coffee time is either the latest news on the local soccer team, politics, or the juicy romantic conquest from the night before and not necessarily in that order!

 

Via Sparano – Bari – Photo: ©Valentina Cirasola

On the way to school, students bite with enjoyment into savory focaccia made with Puglia olives and tomatoes (this is after they have already had a breakfast at home: caffe’ latte and biscotti). At 1:00 pm, on the way back home from school, they will go through the same ritual… they will have another slice of that savory focaccia that makes the dead come alive again.

Work in Bari takes a different twist. All businesses, stores and schools shut down at 1:00 pm every day to allow people to go home and have lunch with their family.
If you are a smoker, consider yourself lucky, as only tobacconist shops are open during this time to help feed your vices.

Between 1:00 and 4:00 pm people do whatever they like for relaxation, but having lunch with one or two glasses of wine is the most important part of that relaxation. In fact, lunch is the biggest meal of the day and no one will ever think drinking wine for lunch is a sin, you will never hear anyone say: “No wine for me, I must return to work” and they do return to work, alive and kicking more than they are in the morning.

At 4:00 pm, activities resume until 7:00 or 8:00 at night, the streets get clogged with cars and people crawl. Contrary to those who must return to work in the afternoon, there is a category of people who have full-time jobs whose hours are only from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Yes, people who work for the government are considered full-time workers with only six hours of work!
In the afternoon, students, independently wealthy, housewives, and teenagers stroll along Via Sparano, Corso Cavour, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Piazza del Ferrarese, Piazza Mercantile and Lungomare arm-in-arm, like lovers, because Italians are touchy-touchy and kissy-kissy people and those are just a few of the most elegant places in the city, where to see and be seen.

The night stroll in Bari Vecchia is not completed without a cone of yellow butcher paper containing piping hot fried “sgagliozze” meaning triangles of salted fried polenta, fried in caldrons set in the street, outside the home of the woman who makes them. You must burn the palate with hot sgagliozze, otherwise, they are not good, say local people.

 

(Photo sgagliozze) – http://www.sabrinabarbante.com/my-favourite-italian-veg-street-food/

View of the Adriatic Sea from the Fortino – Photo ©Valentina Cirasola

Bari is composed of Bari Nuova (new city) and Bari Vecchia (old city). The charming old city is mysterious and magical, especially at night. This part of the city has the most character. Centuries ago, this was the heart of the city called “Muratti” quarters where a treasure trove of millenary arts, history and culture developed.

Bari Vecchia looks over the balcony of the Adriatic Sea like a lady waiting for her sailor. The aroma of algae and salt water mixed with the delicious smell of food coming from homes and restaurants lined up along the bank will fill your nose and permeate the air. On the spur of the moment, you might find yourself going to a seafood restaurant as if some magic spell has been played on you. No, you don’t need a reservation as restaurateurs will welcome you at any hour of the night as if they were welcoming you to their own homes. The people of Bari are night crawlers, so when I say any hour of the night, I do mean any hour. It is very common to find restaurants working at their full capacity at 3:00 am.

Photo Author: Nikater – Wikimedia

In Bari Vecchia “Castello Svevo”, a Norman-Swabian castle stands tall. Emperor Frederick II built it in the Byzantine-Norman-Swabian style. The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas is another important historic landmark, proud of its presence in the city. There, celebrations of Christian Mass for Italian people and Orthodox Mass for Russian people downstairs in the Crypt happen together.

Barese people love to exhibit themselves while going to the theatre, dressed up to their teeth and competing with each other, it’s like going to the Oscar, they will show up with the best designer outfits and wonder who wears it better. The theatre Petruzzelli is the fourth largest in Italy for its dimension and stature, where many famous opera singers and international actors have marked the stage. Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Nureyev, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli, Juliette Greco have performed there, along with the unforgettable Italian comedians, dancers, opera singers, poets and cabaret singers like Eduardo De Filippo, Riccardo Muti, Carla Fracci, Luciano Pavarotti, Piero Cappuccilli, Giorgio Gaber.

Bari was founded by the Greeks and later became a Roman municipality. In 840 AD, Bari was attacked and dominated by Saracens pirates, an attack which lasted many years. The city was saved by a Venetian fleet and remained under the Byzantine’s power for some time. In the 12th and 13th century, Bari changed the ruling power and soon, the city passed under the possession of the Normans and Swabians (today’s Bavarians). The Swabians rebuilt the city, Emperor Frederick II revitalized all activities, the city port and remodeled the castle. In his court, arts and culture flourished. “Stupor Mundi” he was surnamed, meaning amazement of the world, attributed to his high taste for refinement. The history of Bari is so much more interesting than one short paragraph, this is a city a city with a rich heritage which continues to thrive and renews itself as civilization evolves.

Due to the favorable geographic position with easy passage to the East Road, the Middle Eastern countries, and the vicinity to the Mediterranean, Bari has been the main center for trade and commerce with Levantine countries. Modern Bari today is also an active economic center, with the second largest population in the South of Italy. It has become the principal center for technological research with the Polo Universitario and Technopolis, in addition to the annual Fiera del Levante, the international trade show where many countries exhibit their specialty and products.

The Road To Top Of The World, my fourth book, full of my photography and a lot of interesting stories is done and well cooked, it is available on Amazon  https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8
Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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

Through The Grid | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Lunch is just over, fish was so fresh it was still moving in the basket when we ordered it for our afternoon repast. The Verdeca white wine typical of Puglia, served very chilled and smooth was delicious, we could have drunk many bottles if we didn’t have to be on the road continuing our trip. We should be heading towards Matera, but we are still lingering in the corner café between a coffee mousse and after dinner drinks. Life in these parts moves on slow motion, some of the people in my group are having a hard time adjusting to a quieter time of this region.

Traveling through the calm countryside of Puglia, a two-way provincial road, we occasional pass a three-wheeled Vespa truck or an agriculture horse and carriage, while almond and olive trees fill our view all the way there. The sun is lulling. Singing along with “Mimmo Lovely” and his music we finally reach Matera, about 50 km. away from Puglia. We park the car and adventure in a short walk to the nearby center town, through fancy boutiques and utilitarian shops. (Click on each photo to view it larger)

Prefettura-A
The historic Piazza Vittorio Veneto was built between the 1600 and 1700 in a mixture of Romanesque and Baroque architectural styles that was literally propped on a flat surface over the “Sassi”, the ancient stone residences of Matera. The new bourgeoisie buildings, churches, and monasteries built on a flat surface above buried the caves houses, shops, wine cellars, and cisterns underground. Looking down through the grid in Piazza Vittorio Veneto near the fountain it is not so clear that underneath a modern center town pavement there is a huge ancient city of more than 5400 sq. feet, which extends all the way to the convent of the Annunziata and its foundations include a tower once part of the Castello Tramontano. The ancient underground town hides residences in the caves, shops, warehouses, snow storage and a huge water cistern 49 feet tall with a capacity of containing over 132,000 gallons of water.

Campanile-P.zzaV.Veneto-a
Restoration began in early 1990 bringing to light the ancient underground town, part of which we can visit now. Above the underground town a road has been opened to allow visitors to be taken by the view of original homes of the 1700s built in a highly refined style with the purpose of hiding and contrast the cave residences once only considered a disgrace to the town of Matera and now winding below our feet with its maze of neighborhoods, streets, and stairways, asking to be protected.

Piazza V.Veneto -Fontana

Don’t wait too long to see Matera, Puglia, and surrounding areas. Major publications in the world are writing about the area and tourists are flocking along with Hollywood actors who are filming and purchasing properties for their originality and the mystical energy those dwellings emanate. You will feel being pulled towards to earth.

If you are thinking of venturing in Puglia check out my Puglia page – https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/. Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

 

This post is in response to this week WP photo challenge – https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/grid/

 


Copyright © 2015 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Val:FarfalleStampI am writing a travel diary of my last trip to Puglia with an American group and sharing with all of you my notes of feelings, observations, food-wine tasting and experiences that have changed the lives of people traveling with me. The trips I organize are made for people who want to live it up in Puglia! In my books about Puglia cuisine, readers will find many easy recipes to follow at home. Check out my books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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