Here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House although it is only the end of March it seems like it is summer.  Again today the sun continues to shine, the temperatures soared to a giddy 29˚

The ground is real dry, digging in the garden stirs up clouds of fine dust,  from my kitchen window I look across the valley, and once again there is another large fire burning on an opposite hillside, so very strange for March.

Yesterday my neighbour drove down with his tractor and together we filled some of the holes in the road.  I have an appointment to see the director of roads for Gubbio, but he is a real busy man and the appointment is not for another two weeks.  The road to Bellaugello is a public road, yes, public, but the commune will not do any maintenance, they say they have no funds and it is not policy to repair local roads, anyway they allege the last administration ran away with all the funds, and their bank account is empty!

Fortunately for the road, it did not rain last winter which would have resulted in greater destruction.  However the situation is critical and I am determined to get the commune to repair the road.  In the meantime we put some hardcore in the deeper holes and took some evidential photographs, and of course in true Italian style had a good natter over a beer or two!

It is the most beautiful morning here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in the lovely Umbrian countryside.  The sun is already warm and the last remnants of mist in the valley below the house are gently dispersing

The fruit trees are at their best, plums, peaches, nectarines, pears and almonds, the blossom intense, wonderous pinks, creams and whites.

As I wander around the garden watering the newly seeded lawns I disturb a flock of birds, small birds, the kind of birds for whom in the severe snow of recent months I left nuts and seeds and saucers of warm water, blue tits, and how do they repay me?  By eating my lawnseed!!  This year we were more assidious in our sowing, and carefully rolled the seed between a sandwich of fine compost, but yet, the tits seem to have discovered every patch, I now find myself stooping to see the first signs of greensward, has germination succeeded  or are the tits bellies full?  Hopefully a compromise.

The garden is really intense, the bees are busy too, the rosemary in full bloom, and the winter jasmine a bright splash of colour

and tucked against a wall away from the early sun one of my beloved camellias in full bloom.

Today heralding the official start of spring the clocks changed, one hour less in bed, I was camera in hand still in my pyjamas when my neighbours drove up and stopped for a chat and catch up.  They were on their way to hunt for wild asparagus, those fine green spears that grow in the valley a bit beyond Bellaugello.  Had I been properly attired I think I might just have sneeked after them to discover where the asparagus grows, but instead, I head for work, safe in the knowledge that next time I am up at the gate there will be a bunch of wild asparagus waiting for me, frittata di asparagi selvatici for lunch, blissful life in rural Italy……………

A maze of narrow streets lined with divine shops from designer fashions through leather goods and ceramics to cutting edge design and all of a sudden wow!

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Siena Second city of Tuscany only a couple of hours drive from Bellaugello Gay Guest House
Art – Architecture – Shopping – Panforte – Beauty yes
Oh and of course this being Italy there is also a fine cathedral !

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It is not every morning I awake with the sight of ancient fortifications towering g outside my bedroom window but that was the sight that greeted me when I threw open my curtains from my room in my friend’s house in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano

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It is a delightful small town near Siena and so visitable for guys staying at Bellaugello Gay Guest House
As I arrived the town was bustling full of tourists so different from sleepy Gubbio. However by eight pm they had all disappeared and so had the shop keepers and wine bar owners. The town was utterly deserted even quieter than I am used to!
Today I head for home via Siena and the Valdichiana Outlet Village who knows maybe I will post again from my iPhone connection

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An invitation from my good friend Ben to travel down with him to Rome for a day’s sailing on our good friend Adolfo’s boat meant rare escape for me from Bellaugello Gay Guest House.

We set off in tandem, two cars in parallel down the superstrada and this morning stocked up on goodies for a picnic aboard.  Roman pizzas, cacio e pepe, fresh fruit galore and wonderous light sfogliatelle, those heavenly ricotta and orange pastries from Naples,and so to the marina.

The wind was negligible, indeed zero..

but that did not stop us having a great day out the sun was hot, real hot, little swell and finally just enough breeze for us to sail at a modest 6 knots, bliss….

An explosion of the senses……….

This morning one of my neighbours who thankfully still farms in the time honoured fashion of traditional animal husbandry tumbled down the dirt road in his Apetto, those wonderous three wheel vehicles so evocative of rural Italy.

An ancient farm, lovingly tended, chickens and geese wandering freely, both summer and winter vegetable gardens, and best of all a small flock of sheep all resplendent with Shakespearean names wandering freely in organic pastures on the hillsides under the ancient olive trees.

Milking is still done by hand, and the milk becomes not only the lightest ricotta, perfect on its own or in a fluffy baked ricotta cake, but also one of the finest cheeses in the world – Pecorino, eaten fresh or ‘stagionato’ mature, perfect for grating over hand cut pasta or simply on its own with local honey.  My neighbour learnt his  cheese making skills from a Sardinian shepherd so the cheese is good, real good, and this morning in celebration of the Pecorino I opened a bottle of Sagrantino di Montefalco and in the heat of the late morning sun we sat and I got to taste the new season Pecorino – fragrant, soft, yet at the same time crumbly, delicate, moist, utterly scrumptious.

It was just a wee taste, I am so spoilt,  and fortunately  I have twisted said farmer’s arm and a limited amount of said Pecorino will be on the table for breakfast here for you guys staying here this spring at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.