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.