Romanesque Door

Down in the boot of Italy, Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, Saracens, Normans and Swabians took turns to enjoy the fertile land, the sea overflowing with fish, the pleasant climate, the warm winds, the beautiful women and the easy proximity to the East. The old city of Bari is a mixture of ancient Roman and Byzantine buildings of the 10th century, characterized by round arches, sturdy pillars, thick walls, barrel vaults and decorative arcades. The center of the city reflects a neo-classic style architecture built in the early 19th by Joachim Murat, the “flamboyant dandy king” and Napoleon’s brother in law. The buildings downtown are all very symmetrical, the forms are defined in the simplicity of their order.

Palazzo sulla muraglia

This is the city with a view on the blue-green Adriatic Sea, this is Bari, my native city in the boot of Italy, a door opened to the Mediterranean basin through which trading with the Orient, Middle Eastern and African countries has been a way to live since the beginning of time.

This is a place where people eat bread and tomato for breakfast, and raw shellfish on the bank of the Sea at 10:00 o’clock in the morning. This is a place where mature women make handmade pasta, real masterpieces, in the streets outside their homes and wash the floor of the streets every morning as the streets are an extension of their homes.

Woman Making Orecchiette Pasta

In Bari, the balconies are full of flowers and laundry drying in four winds of the Mediterranean. In Bari people love the alleys with cobblestones where fried polenta, crispy focaccia and panzerotti (a type of closed pizza) fill the air, along with people talking out-loud thinking no one is listening and women walking graciously on stiletto shoes.
It’s the usual story of an emigrant, we leave in search of better things and always find what we were looking for in that same place we left.

Dan Antion keeps offering this Thursday Door Challenge. Please visit with us and discover many stories beyond beautiful doors in the world. Ciao,
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page

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

Baroque Door

Europe is dotted with castles, each with its own history of families intertwined by political marriages, demagogic expansions and economic wars. Nothing different than what happens today in every country and its people.

Interior of Castello San Giusto, Trieste, Italy

In 1469, the Triestine people engaged in a war against the Venetian Republic by themselves without the support of the Habsburgs, of which Frederick III was the Emperor. Trieste was sacked, looted and people massacred. To punish the people of Trieste, the Emperor ordered the building of this fortress at their own expense.

Comune di Trieste /  Video by TCD with the contribution of Friuli Venezia Giulia

The fortress is now a very interesting museum to visit.

Dining in the castle

Dinner will be served at 8:00 pm, they are waiting for me. I will make sure I am attired with a nice evening period gown, complete with gloves, a hand fan, silk shoes and a “ridicule”, a small pouch where every woman hides the book of dance arrangements. I will also make sure to raise my right little finger when I bring the glass to my mouth, just to be coquettish.

The Thursday Door Challenge or organized by Dan Antion is growing with interesting posts, make sure you come to visit us and share the fun. Ciao.
Valentina
My Amazon Books

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

Doors In The Medieval Era

A few years ago, I was leading a group of American friends traveling through my native region of Puglia, in Italy, an area any of them had ever visited before. Strolling through alleyways of Medieval towns and country towns, we spotted this quaint courtyard with stone buildings, ancient stone floors onto which horses and carriages have gone through at one point and climbing plants providing a bit of cool and pleasant refreshing area.
(click on each picture to view it larger)

I remember it was early afternoon, around 2:00 pm, when only tourists walk around. At that hour in the afternoon, the heat of the summer is very hot, the sunlight reflects on the white walls of the homes turning the walls to golden yellow and everything else seems to be undulating. Have you ever experienced it? We were looking for a place to stop, sit and get refreshed with a cold drink. We found this courtyard, the arched open door was a “cantina” a wine place that at night turns into a pub.

Cantina – a wine place

Inside, the walls were made of stones and arched ceilings, the type of construction that keeps the heat out in the summertime and warmth in when it’s cold and raining. The décor was sparse in tune with the Medieval age of the building. The rough wood benches with seats alined under the vaulted ceilings gave the exact sensation of being in a different time, but the lights were modern.

My American friends found their way to Coca Cola and the rest of us had very chilled white wines.

My Friends

Above, all of us, the only ones in the street under the hot Mediterranean sun at 2:00 pm in the afternoon.

Traveling is very rewarding, it’s one of the many ways to learn about people of the world. Through the Thursday Door Challenge organized by Dan Antion we are also discovering customs, history and ways of living. Ciao.
Valentina
Amazon Books

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

The Doors Of A Flâneur

Flâneur is a French term meaning ‘stroller’ ‘observer’ or ‘loafer’ used by nineteenth-century French poet Charles Baudelaire to identify an observer of modern urban life. With high observational skills, a flâneur, usually a man, is able to see things that others fail to see. He wanders but remains detached from the world he encounters and generally, the world he sees conceals a story.

On the Adriatic Sea, a small quaint town of Polignano a Mare in Italy, showcases its own flâneur who writes poems and poetries on doors, walls, and stairs. Nobody erases his thoughts, he writes about love and life, he quotes classical authors, philosophers, and great thinkers.

On this door, the flâneur writes a W.Shakespeare’s phrase:
Love runs to meet love with the same joy pupils run from their books; love that separates from its love has the same sad face the pupils have when they return to school”.

On this door, he quotes R.Tagore:
The butterfly doesn’t count the year, it counts the seconds, that’s the reason its brief life is sufficient”.

Here the flâneur quotes Torquato Tasso, an Italian poet of the 16th Century:
“Lost is all the time that is not spent in loving”.

Here he wrote one piece of poetry from satirist Giuseppe Parini:
“May the morning raises in the company of dawn, in front of the sun that large appears on the far horizon to make happy animals, plants, the fields, and the waves”.

Many of the flâneur’s writing can be seen on the doors of this quaint town, and many are his own expressions on life. I hope you get a chance to visit.
Doors are the anticipation of what they conceal. This Thursday Doors Challenge hosted by Dan Antion is a fun opportunity to understand how people live, their dreams, their business, and their social status. Ciao,
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page

Copyright © 2022 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val_Pink

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

Medieval Doors in Gioia

The legend goes that Emperor Frederic II, King of Sicily, King of Germany, King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor, King of Jerusalem all in the decade of the 1200s, ordered the incarceration of Bianca Lancia in the dungeon of the Castle in Gioia, Italy. To these days, nobody knows what crime she was accused of, maybe her only fault was her beauty, and that she was the lover of the Emperor, pregnant with his baby. At that time, it would have been good enough to lock her up to get her out of the public eyes. Once his baby, Manfredi was born, immediately inherited the Kingdom of Sicily.

On the dungeon’s walls, there are two balls carved in stone, they appear to be Bianca Lancia’s breasts, says the legend…. what a cruel fate reserved for lovers….!!!


Emperor Frederick II also surnamed “stupor mundi” (wonder or amazement of the world) seems to have been a well-liked Emperor then and now. He was a charismatic person with a fascinating polyhedral personality, spoke many languages, loved the arts and cultural innovations as a means to unify all races, and as often happens, his advanced thinking was contrasted by the Church. 

The theme of these painted doors is portraits of people and life in the 1200s depicting effigies of the Emperor’s era: soldiers, war scenes, courtesans, and lovers are all there to tell the story. Every few years, the city of Gioia organizes an international artist competition, during which artists choose one unpainted door and give space to their creativity in interpreting subjects Emperor Frederic II would have loved. These painted doors permeate the center of town with a great sense of history.

This is in response to the Thursday Door Challenge hosted by Dan Antion. Ciao,
Valentina
Amazon Author’s Page

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

A Month in Europe | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

Ah, it was so good to have been off the Internet for a month, I detoxed of some of the electromagnetism and it feels so good.
I was in Europe the entire month of May and what a month has been! On the return flight back to the USA, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. I assure you it was painful, however, when I was finally up in the air acting as if I was enjoying the flight, I recollected the precious moments I lived in May, it was like images scrolled in a film and I relived the beautiful moments.
Life is much better as a comedy, I saw the funny side in every situation.

My hotel was a 16th-century building. I enjoyed my room in the mansard, the exposed wood beams in the room, the small windows on the roof, the stone stairs and the whole antiquity feel of it. The nights were so peaceful and warm up there, it was enveloping after being in the cold weather all day. The chirping of birds and the sound of a church bells wake me up in the morning at 6:00 am punctual.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

Prague - 16th Century Hotel

Prague – 16th Century Hotel

The weather was inclement, it was cold and rainy the entire month, I even experienced the “bomb rain” as people call it there. In Prague, one day, I was walking to the Alfonse Mucha’s Museum, the day was cold and sunny, it was a good day for a brisque walk. Right before I arrived at the Museum, rain poured down abruptly without warning, the sky turned dark grey and water came down like a furious hurricane, it got me totally soaked head to toes!
That was fun. 😱

Every day, I walked on cobblestone streets and enjoyed the changing of design from block to block. I also enjoyed the kind manners of some men when the sidewalk was narrow, stopping and yielding for me to pass first. In a world of rude people, that’s so precious!

Designed Cobblestones

Designed cobblestones

All stores had an antique feel to it, caryatids held the building gracefully. Antique, blackout wood doors, closed the stores at night, the same doors I had seen in my childhood in Italy. I am so in love with rich classic architecture and Prague is full of it!

Jewelry Store

Jewelry Store

 

Caryatid

Caryatid

I climbed many steps, visited many artists and folk art places.

Castle Stairs

Castle Stairs

 

Figurines

Figurines

 

Marionettes Shop

Marionettes Shop

 

Leather Money/Telephone Cases

Leather Money/Telephone Cases

I ate in the most characteristic places and not necessarily restaurants. Murals in this bistro resemble the style of Dutch Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Restaurant-Mural

Restaurant-Murals

 

Murals in a Restaurant

Murals in a Restaurant

 

Mural in a restaurant

Mural in a restaurant

I admired beautiful panoramas, visited castles and cathedrals, took a boat ride, saw the change of the guards in the castle, and studied the character of some militaries on a post (humans are the same everywhere, there is always the leader in every crowd).

Tourists Boat on Charles Bridge

Tourists Boat on Charles Bridge

 

Militaries

Militaries

Prague, the city of 1000 spires is a beautiful walkable city, its red roofs nestled in a lot of greenery convey traditions, people are very kind and the bad weather didn’t stop me from having a nice vacation. Food is based on meat, potatoes, starch, and divine beers. 

Prague - Red Roofs

Prague – Red Roofs

The art I saw here will be a new inspiration for my design. My European genes are calling. See you soon, Europe. Ciao,
Valentina
Trotting the world one country at a time
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

 

Copyright © 2019 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian interior designer in business since 1990. She is passionate about colors and all expressive arts. She is a “colorist”. To her, selecting art means to bring out the best energy of her clients and nourish their soul. She trots the world and loves writing travel notes, from which she draws inspiration to design her interiors. She is the author of four books, one of which is on the subject of colors: ©Red-A Voyage Into Colors available on
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
She also wrote a travel narrative: ©The Road To Top Of The World
available in paper and Kindle version:  https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8

Dwellings Of The Myth | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

My trip in the South of Italy finished before I could visit the opening of “Dwellings Of The Myth” an historical personal contemporary art exhibition by the sculptor Girolamo Ciulla, a Sicilian artist transplanted in Tuscany. His art composed of travertine, bronze, iron, ceramic, wood and marble sculptures has been placed in the Sassi, caves of Matera, between rocks and ancient churches, in a mystical land, where earth’s vibrations are high and can be felt on the skin. This exhibition is a modern reinterpretation of classic divinities in the Mediterranean culture. He sees Demetra, a goddess of harvest with flowing hair and the Aurigae, the charioteer constellation as modern, poetic interpretation of today’s life.

I remember when going to Matera was almost an impossible task on impervious winding roads, especially in the winter with snow on the ground.  People who didn’t own a car, couldn’t even find a convenient train to reach the town. Usually, in the largest cities nearby, private car owners organized themselves as taxi services, collected people at a conventional corner, that they established as their stop and took people to Matera back and forth.

(Click on each photo to view it larger)

Today, Matera is a modern town, bustling with new ideas, energized by Hollywood producers who chose this site to film many famous productions, the European commission has declared the town the European cultural centre for 2019, and despite the rolling events and happenings, Matera so far has managed to preserve the ancient look of that town I used to know.

(Photo: Girolamo Ciulla – http://www.sassilive.it)

Sculptor Girolamo Ciulla has dedicated a stone to Matera as a symbol of distance between his native town of Caltanissetta, Sicily and Matera. In his imagination distances do not keep people apart but make them closer. Girolamo Ciulla’s exhibition will be open until October 14, 2018 and I missed it. I am wondering, other than local Italians, how many travelers will visit the Sassi just to enjoy this exhibition.

Photos Source: https://www.arte.go.it)

Girolamo Ciulla Book – Dimore del mito – Euro 23.75

In my mind, there are two kinds of people trotting the world: the tourist and the traveler.
The tourist roams aimlessly the streets of foreign countries, takes meaningless pictures and eats tourist food. The traveler wants to learn, enquires, listens to local sounds, appreciates local folklore, ventures in unusual places, tries out new things, writes notes, talks to people and eats local food.

Next year will be fun to be in Matera again, a lot will happen due to nomination of the town as cultural centre for 2019, and I want to be part of that fun. 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

Traveling With A Brain | Valentina Cirasola | Designer

The article I  read today on traveling to Italy didn’t come as a surprise, I had heard the same news in a program on the Italian TV station a few months ago. The article talks about Venice, Capri, Lake Garda, the Emerald coast in Sardinia and more sites which tourists stumble upon mindlessly and carelessly. Read the article here.
https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/953108/venice-tourism-italy-crackdown-capri-lake-garda

Tourists have targeted some historical Italian cities, partly because of the activities Hollywood brought to Italy, such as filming in certain locations, actors buying beautiful Italian properties, or vacationing on Italian territory, but also because with the increase of low-cost air fares, anybody can afford to discover far away lands. Although Italy likes and wants tourists, the nation can no longer bear the influx of millions of tourists a year. The streets are small, the infrastructures frail and the onset of B&Bs, hotels, restaurants with tourist menus and Chinese low-cost souvenirs, did nothing more than uproot the local people. Local people can no longer buy goods of ‘prime necessity’, such as bread, pasta, milk, fruit, meat, medicine, clothing, go to the doctor or send kids to schools. They have been forced out of the city for other living accommodation in neighboring villages and small towns,  leaving Venice in the hands of tourists, who are only interested in taking the usual boring photos in Piazza San Marco with the pigeons, eat power bars, or disgusting food in tourist restaurants, buy souvenirs of no value in Chinese shops, go to the bathroom, choke the city sewers and go away to the next destination.

The  Italian city officials want to set up check points, crowd control measures and limit the daily entry to the most popular cities to a  certain amount of tourists.
I don’t blame them for wanting to adopt such drastic measures, local life of natives has disappeared, natives need to return and regain their cities.

(Venice crowded streets)
(Venice crowded canals)
Crowding the most famous cities in the world is not a way to travel. This is not smart traveling using the brain, this is some game travel agencies and tour operators want to play to the detriment of the historical Italian cities.

People of the world only move from country to country as fast as they can, vacation time is short and want to see as much as they can, so they can say to have been there. However, when they return to their home base, don’t even know what they have seen and where that thing was.  This is not traveling, this is moving a heard of people like cows.
Traveling is a different thing all together, is experiencing how people live and what they do in their daily routine. Traveling is about learning history and discovering what tickles the locals, what they eat and what excites them, what the nation produces and how is produced. Traveling is also helping a farmer and learn some agriculture technique, then plant something from that country in your own backyard. Traveling is learning a language on the spot or improving the knowledge speaking with the locals. Traveling is experiencing a theatre representation, or do some different culture activity that generally one wouldn’t do at home.

Do these travelers in flip-flops, short pants and stupid t-shirts know how a Ferrari is produced and where the factory is? Do they ever go to a fashion show, visit a fashion industry, or fashion school and hold a piece of fantastic fabric in their hands? Do they know the difference between a “culatello” and a “prosciutto”?
Do they know that a prosciutto made from the left leg of the pig is better  and tastier than the prosciutto made from the right leg? Do they know what is a Parmigiano made from the red cow, or what is a “chianina steak”? Do these travelers know how balsamic vinegar is made and do they know how to taste olive oil, balsamic vinegar or wines? Three different ingredients for Italian food, three different ways to taste them. Do these travelers know that gnocchi and gnocco fritto are two different things?
Would they know how to play soccer with beer caps, if they saw kids playing in the streets? Do they know that in San Gregorio Armeno is Christmas every day and can buy Christmas art made by skilled local artists to take home? Do they ever know that chocolate made with a filling of Parmigiano and balsamic vinegar is an explosion of taste buds and an experience they would never forget? How about picking some white berries, which I am sure they have never seen before?

Flocking only to  the most popular cities is not the way to go.  If travelers would take a detour and  go visit some of the places where Italians make products, they would love the experience of traveling so much better and they wouldn’t face any crowd at all.
It has been said “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” and
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but having new eyes.”

I don’t go where the mass go, I totally dislike crowded places and bad services.
I find my way outside the beaten path and I take smart travelers with me, those people who can live it up, learn new ways, new things, have fun discovering and become better people. There is so much to see in the world, why go where everybody goes? Go to Italy, select one not publicized area and discover all there is to know in that area.  Vacation time is precious, don’t waste it with bad food, irritable people, long lines, high prices and tourist traps. 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

Weathered | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Ah, Venice, the only city in the world where pigeons walk, lions fly, sexy men are made of stones and gondoliers are the richest taxi drivers in the whole world!

When I am in Venice, photographing conventional sites, even as beautiful as they are, is not my goal. Sure, I have done those tourist photos too, but I am more intrigued to find weathered details usually people leave behind, because they don’t appeal to their eyes. I like to find details which tell a story.

Most buildings in Venice beautify the sky with characteristic weathered ‘comignoli’ (chimneys). They are tall and look like small homes with a gable roof on top of buildings. Many wealthy Californians have embellished their “Tuscan style” homes with copies of Italian style ‘comignoli’ and ‘faccioni’ (cherub’s faces), sometimes stuck on garden walls as planters.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

 

(Above: chimney called comignolo)

I could have spent endless hours more than I did talking to the older man, owner of the restoration laboratory. He spent his entire life among stunning and weathered objects, furniture, fabrics, grisailles and historic pieces. It was so fascinating listening to his stories !!!


(Above: Restoration store)

I am amazed of how well the weathered wood poles and stilts deeply planted in water, hold Venice up and how well lintel beams hold together the walls of many weathered homes.

(Above: Santa Maria della Salute in the background)

(Above: Casa Goldoni decorative lintel)

(Above: Venice characteristic street lamp)

Perfectly weathered pewter and bronze street lamps are still standing not decayed, as are the marble stone statues, precious mosaics on buildings‘ facades and marble carved capitals with acanthus leaves still showing the intricate details on top of columns.


(Above: Marble acanthus leaves capitel)

(Above: Store pewter door handle)

One might imagine finding weathered home gardens, where courtship and lover quarrels might have happened one time, but they are hard to find today.

The local Venetians are leaving town for a better living. Venice has no longer stores of primary needs for the locals, such as bread shops, meat shops, vegetable shops, dairy shops, fish market, drug stores, clothing stores, book stores, the seamstress shops, hat shops, shoe maker shops, the clinic, a local doctor office and all the shops which regulate and take care of the needs of a human life.

Venice has become a stumping ground for tourists with a little interest in history, art and theatre art. Their needs are to go to the bathroom, buy a gelato, a cheap tourist meal, a few meaningless trinkets made in China, get a photo with the pigeons in St. Marco square and return to the ship or wherever they came from. The town today is made of B&Bs, restaurants with tourist menus (what kind of crap is that?), cheap souvenirs, super expensive gondola rides, counterfeit fashion items sold in the streets by illegal immigrants and nothing else.
Venice belongs first to the Venetians,  to Italy and then to the world.  That Venice charm I had known is forever lost. 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

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