There are so many reasons ...

There are so many reasons that Italy has slipped into my heart but one of the biggest is surely the people I have met here over the years.

The people of Piedmont have simply added to that particular experience of Italy.  There was the intensity, the laughter, and the pure joy of spending those hours working with Carla in her restaurant kitchen on Monday ... then the kindness and patience of the people in Acqui Terme's Market with those foreign photographers yesterday.  Last night it was all about the generosity of the people who led us through an exquisite multi-course dinner. 

There is a saturation that occurs, for me, here.  A saturation that is not just of a physical nature but there is a very real sensation of my soul being filled ... or whatever 'organ' it is that stores joy.  It fills and overflows and simply sparkles so many times in day when I'm here.

Sure there is the beautiful landscape, the visible histories, the wine, the food, and the language but there are also the people. 

Yesterday the lovely man pictured below arrived at Diana and Micha's, laden down with gifts and toting his own gentle charm.  Needless to say we adored him, both for the fruit and even more after he called us all beautiful women.

For all that is difficult, in Italy in these current days, there is still so much that is beautiful and I am truly grateful to the people who allow me in.

Genova tomorrow, the day when I get to introduce everyone here to that Ligurian city I love so very well.

To Market ... Acqui Terme, Piedmont

Acqui Terme has been a revelation to me.  I  had imagined a small Italian village that serviced the farming community. 

I am now so ashamed of my extreme ignorance.  I should have searched Diana's name with 'Acqui Terme'.  She wrote a lovely piece over on Slow Travel Italy, with the title: So, Ok, But, Well, Why Acqui Terme?

I need to go back and photograph it all but imagine, I dipped my hand into this fountain ... La Bollente, a fountain built in 1879 by Giovanni Ceruti that is arguably Acqui Terme's most famous landmark. At all hours of the day and late into the night men, women and children can be seen visiting La Bollente (literally "the boiling source"), filling jugs and buckets with the curative waters that rise to the earth's surface here at 75 degrees celsius.

Today it is a thriving town surrounded by vineyards that produce some of the most remarkable wines I've ever tasted.  But more on the wines another time, although this wine was indescribably delicious.

We were there for the market and I managed to replace that hat I lost in Genova too. 

Diana bought a chicken from a man who grows the tastiest chickens (I imagine I might be getting boring with all this 'exquisite' and 'best ever' stuff, I know.  It will pass.  Forgive me.)  And she selected some cheeses and some gloriously sweet juicy tomatoes. 

Diana roasted the chicken until it was golden on the outside, some potatoes, and whipped up a tomato salad too.  Micha opened another delicious Piedmont red wine and voila ... dinner was truly divine.

The Rainbow Seat, Piedmont

Diana and Micha have created an extraordinary space here at their B&B in Piedmont.

It's a photographer's delight really.  Everywhere you look, there is some exquisite detail.  Yesterday, swimming in their pool, I would stop sometimes, lean on the side and just concentrate on how much beauty there was there in front of me.

And perhaps it seems like I'm exaggerating, or that I don't get out much, or I'm easily impressed but really, I'm almost sure that it's just about the fact that B&B Baur is beautiful.

Baur B&B, Italy

And so you arrive Diana and Micha's house.

They offer the most beautiful surroundings at their B&B in Italy. 

I went wandering in the early morning light on Tuesday.  The light, the buildings, the colours, the countryside ... I risked Stendhal Syndrome.

Note: this is where we will be hosting the photography and storytelling workshop in Italy.  There is one place left. 

What say you?

Your Beautiful Truth Retreat, Italy

Planning and developing has kept me quiet here, as well as playing tag with exhaustion and flu the rest of the time.

And so to announce, with much pleasure, the first Your Beautiful Truth Retreat, in partnership with the extremely talented and inspirational Diana Baur.

Come take a peek  ...


On Saturday, I hopped on a train, heading for parts unknown to me ...

Stefano picked me up at Novi and then I arrived, on a small patch of paradise, in the Italian countryside.  Before any of my more cynical friends roll their eyes over my casual use of the word 'paradise', I will explain. 

In New Zealand, I was a creature who loved nature.  I didn't need wilderness, I just enjoyed the sky doing its thing, seeing healthy plants, walking my dogs in school fields, along beaches or river edges.  It was a recipe for dreaming.

And I have always loved the scent the nature, especially in Spring, when plants seem to celebrate their winter survival and fill the air with stunning scents.

In Piedmont, Italy, the air, without exaggeration, seemed to be constantly scented by some delicate flower.  Acacia I suspect but I don't know enough about the beautiful plant, I photographed, to be sure.  Does anyone know what the flowering 'tree' at the end of this post is?  Or what the gentle, jasmine-like scent might have been?

Update: Stefano let me know the name ... it is Robinia pseudoacacia or False Acacia.

I rested, in a way that I haven't rested in a long time.  I watched the clouds put on a small show and I photographed so many of the plants as I wandered the grounds.

But that aside, I met excellent people. On Saturday evening, friends of Stefano and Miriam gathered and the Genovese humour made me laugh.  It's a wicked humour but gently wicked.  And I tried a range of Genovese foods, out there in the Piedmont countryside ... Cima stood out as a new favourite.   I'll write of it another day but Miriam's mother made it and it was delicious.

And wine ... the wine I tasted, it came from the area and was unlike any I had tasted before but in a good way.

Yes, let me say quietly ... I had a most marvellous time.  Grazie mille, Stefano and Miriam.