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.

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,

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


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 heel (for women), to let the feet breathe and avoid headaches. If feet hurt, your head hurts too.


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, it is necessary to add 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.

My travel to Puglia, Italy with a group is coming up April 15, 2013 – (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,

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

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