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

Three Wonder Words | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

“Wonderful Cookbook!!! I have three wonder words: Baked Ricotta Cheese. Just amazing. The recipes are simple to understand and the instructions are easy for me a home cook. She takes a hand full of ingredients and turns them into a feast. This cookbook is just as good as the first” ~ says the review from one of my readers Shannon L. Sigman of San Jose, CA – on my book ©Sins Of A Queen.

This is a book on Italian Appetizers and Desserts, but everything in there can also be made into easy meals. Baked Ricotta Cheese on page 51 is such an easy recipe that it’s almost a non-recipe. The only ingredients needed are fresh ricotta any olives, Italian prosciutto, or any ham, olive oil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Drain the water from the ricotta. Beat it to break the molecules, mix in all the ingredients. Butter a baking dish, lay the mixture in the pan, and bake at 400˚ F for about 40-45 minutes. Serve it with a tomato salad, or mixed green salad. Don’t forget a piece of Italian bread and a glass of wine. Dinner cannot be any simpler than this. I kept my promises when I said I was going to write the simplest Italian recipes ever, especially thought for people living a busy life. That was my aim.

There are a few differences in the ricotta products you might want to know. Don’t get confused with Ricotta Salata, salty ricotta aged for a few months and covered with a natural hard skin formed during the aging process. Ricotta Salata comes in a wheel and cuts in slices like any hard cheese. It goes well with salami, Italian cured prosciutto, and grilled sausages, accompanied by a rustic salad. It’s a good rustic item to have among other appetizers.

The ricotta to use in my recipe must be the fresh type found in plastic tubs and sold in specialized cheese shops, where sometimes I am lucky enough to find it in straw baskets as it sells in Italy. The region of Puglia, in Italy, produces the best fresh ricotta and related products. http://www.abbasciano.it/en. Fresh ricotta is a spoon type cheese, creamy and spreadable and contains a bit of water, thus is lighter. It is very good to eat when following a low calories diet.

The difference in taste from the ricotta sold in supermarkets and the type sold in specialty cheese shops is like night and day.  Fresh ricotta is made from cow’s milk or sheep’s milk, the latter is a bit more fattening, but it has more body and a slightly salty taste. Both are good to use for savory cooking as lasagna, stuffed pasta with spinach and mushrooms, tarts, Savarins, canapés and so much more. For sweets and cakes, fresh ricotta is the best.


(Photo ricotta canestrata found on: https://www.italieonline.eu/da/italienske-oste-119.htm)

The day I plan to make fresh bread, I make also a trip to the cheese shop to get the fresh ricotta ready to go on that crunchy and hot bread from the oven.
It looks and feels like a hot volcano with a mound of fluffy snow on top and that’s the best way I can describe it in words.

The baked ricotta recipe is in my book ©Sins Of A Queen.

Being very conscious of what I eat, cow’s milk ricotta is lighter and fluffy, it suits better my need and my taste. Yes, it is true, Italian people in Puglia eat as simple as this. Ciao,
Valentina

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 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 published books on regional Italian cuisine, available on this site on the Books sections and on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Her book on colors ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors is in the printing at this time and will be available soon.

 

 

 

Are You Getting Your Palm Twisted? | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

I love the religious holidays in Italy. It is time to renew our traditions, to bring family together and to teach the youngster what really matters.
(Photo palm weaving found on: http://www.italymagazine.com/news/art-palm-weaving)

About a month before Easter the “palmari” , farmers who are true palm artists start to prepare the leaves of palm trees by choosing the female leaves only, which are the longest and thinnest leaves (how do they recognize them is still a mystery to me). For a few weeks the leaves are left to dry covered with a canvas tarp, then they start twisting them in all shapes possible and they become master pieces of art. They are sold in all shoppes in Italy the week of Palm Sunday to give as a gift and a symbol of peace to friends and family members.

In history palm leaves were considered a symbol of triumph, victory and acclamation of royalties.  Today they are the symbol of peace and love.
In some regions of Italy, the faithful take a branch of olive tree with the twisted palm to church to benedict them with holy water, then they place both on the Easter table well overflowing with good food.

Jesus Christ was welcomed to Jerusalem with olive branches, today they are equally used especially in areas where palm trees don’t grow. In northern Europe where even the olive trees don’t grow, this Easter tradition of giving a branch as symbol of peace continues with local leaves and flowers twisted together.

Each year Easter is defined a “low holiday” when it arrives around March and coincides with the pruning of the olive trees, or is defined as a “high holiday” when arrives around April with a warm Spring and when the olive trees might already have new green shoots.

In beautiful Sorrento, South of Italy, on Palm Sunday there is a beautiful show going on in the streets of this quaint town. Women carry in their hands colored confetti made into the shape of branches or small trees and men carry on their shoulders large branches of olive trees with small cheeses called caciocavallo attached to the branch with colored ribbons. The story goes that around 1551 many Saracens ships (Arabs) were coming to invade Sorrento, but the sea started to get agitated and shipwrecked all of them. From then on, Sorrento celebrates its peace and victory with the benediction of confetti and caciocavallo, instead of twisted palm leaves and olive branches as in the rest of Italy.

Decorating the house through the Easter month with palm leaves will bring a sense of peace and a very unusual form of art everybody will admire. The palm leaves made up this way will last for a good three months.
I love to bring original art pieces in my Clients’ homes. I can help you finding them, just leave your name in the box. Ciao,

Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. 
She has helped a variegated group of fun people realizing their dreams with homes, offices, interiors and exteriors.
 She designs architectural landscape as a complement to the residential design concept as a unity. She has been described as the “colorist”.

Valentina is the author of two regional and cultural Italian cook books, available in this site on the Books page and also on these sites:
Come Mia Nonna – A Return To Simplicityhttp://outskirtspress.com/ComeMiaNonna
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnq8baaAq0M
Sins Of A Queen – Italian Appetizers and Dessertshttp://outskirtspress.com/SinsOfAQueen

 

Sea-Urchins or First Newly Wed Night? | Valentina Cirasola |Author and Designer

 

Sea Urchin

Fish in Puglia is a sacred saint subject! It is a very serious matter. People eat it at least four times a week and every time is a ritual.
“Il fritto misto”, or mixed fried fish is always eaten with the hands when brought to the mouth is almost like playing the harmonica with the flesh and the bones.

Many fish sauces or broths are always used as condiments to pasta or rice and the fish cooked with those sauces becomes the second course, this way the preparation time is well spent and we have two substantial dishes at once. It is also a good way to save money on food. Pugliese cooking is today, as it was in the antiquity, a frugal cuisine.
One characteristic aspect of the fish in Puglia is the ritual of eating it raw on the bank of the Adriatic Sea.

In Bari, there is a place called: “N-Derr’a La Lanze”, a centre of the mariners’ life of the old city, where fishermen leave their boats to rock on the calm waters of the port and where they sew their nets and curl octopi for hours. Curling octopi it is a spectacle to see! It is an ancient practice that goes back to the late 1500’s and is only done in Bari.

The City Council governing Bari in the 1500′s established that the curled octopi had to be sold in a roll of one Kilogram at the price of 3-1/2 grain, which was the money value at that time. The curling serves the purpose of tenderizing the octopi, which then will be eaten raw with only a glass of white wine and a piece of fresh country Pugliese bread.

Much seafood, or as we call them “frutti di mare” are eaten raw, such as sea truffles, mussels, clams, razor clams, oysters, sea-urchins, smelt fish and others found in the Mediterranean Sea. Sunday meals especially are not complete without seafood.
We have an old Barese saying that goes: “It is better to eat sea-urchins and seafood than to consummate a first newlywed night”. In other words, sea-urchins are only good when they are freshly caught, retaining briefly their color and taste of the sea, but marriage, when built on solid foundations, is always there.

Please forward this article to anyone you think might be interested in reading it and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Thank you. Ciao.
Valentina
Visit the designer: www.valentinadesigns.com


Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Come Mia Nonna–A Return to Simplicity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnq8baaAq0M
Sins Of A Queen – Italian Appetizers and Desserts
Available in this site at the Books Page and also in various locations:
outskirtspress.com/ComeMiaNonna
http://outskirtspress.com/SinsOfAQueen
http://www.amazon.com/Valentina-Cirasola/e/B0031A02H2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Robert Taitano, a friend and business associate of www.wine-fi.com says:
“Valentina – an International Professional Interior Designer is now giving you an opportunity to redesign your palate”.

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