Do you believe that dreams do come true?
Is it possible to turn dreams into reality?
I wasn't so sure until just recently when we made the decision to visit Italy.
Travelling to Italy from where I live in Australia is a 23 hour flight plus time at airport stopovers. This was all made longer when we where held up on the highway for 5 hours due to a tragic road accident.
And so it was, that myself, my husband and two teenage children set foot on the homeland of our parents and grandparents.
Landing at Milano Malpensa airport we were whisked away by my dear cousins to their hometown of Torino.
Our first visit the next morning was at the majestic Basilica di Superga which overlooks the city.
During a morning walk we came across a couple who had been out early to collect wild mushrooms. Just look at the size of them!
Always elusive as to the actual location of these their prize, the pickers simply said they picked them "in the mountains".
How lucky we were to visit our cousins and be welcomed into their homes. Our greatest pleasure was to savour the delights of the home cooking such as the delicious zeppole di san Giuseppe prepared by my wonderful aunt.
Our first pizza in Italy was in Torino and what a treat it was!
It wasn't long before we moved on from Torino. On our way we stopped at the amazing Palazzina di caccia di Stupinigi - originally the hunting lodge of the Savoy royal family in Nichelino south of Torino.
Soon we arrived at the home of our cousins in Guarene - 45 km southeast of Torino.
Just in time for lunch!
Prosciutto cotto and prosciutto crudo.
Toma cheese dressed with "bagnet" verde - an italian salsa verde particular to the Piedmont area.
A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach - roasted capsicum of various colours.
After lunch we emerge from the house to take in our surrounds - this was the view!
Guarene is a gorgeous medieval village.
Surrounding towns include Asti and Alba.
The window displays were just too much for me to resist!
A short drive took us to the home town of my husband's grandparents - Camagna Monferrato.
This picturesque village is now home to only a few residents and I think we were related to all of them!
My husband loved chatting to the locals in the dialect he learnt as a child.
The tranquil view from the window of our dear cousins in Camagna Monferrato
Not far is the town of Conzano, sister city of our hometown in Australia and look what we found!
I love the beautiful town of Casale Monferrato where we sampled the local speciality Krumiri - a simple cookie invented over 100 years ago and still made to the original secret recipe.
Moving to the region of Emilia-Romagna to Piacenza, my father's home town we visited Castell'Arquato. This medieval town has kept its original appearance since the early 10th century.
And the local council workers even use authentic equipment alongside more modern equivalents.
In Mantova myself, my daughter along with my cousin met up with the exchange student we had hosted several years ago and her mum in their home town.
Sbrisolona in the bakery window in Mantova. I had baked this after being given the recipe by our sweet exchange student during her stay.
This is where I will leave you for today.
I hope you enjoyed this first taste of Our Italian Dream.