Bellaugello farming treated me to a Christmas present. I am now the proud owner of an ancient but well-loved Ape 50. One of those legendary three wheelers that epitomise the Italian peasantry and Italian countryside

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It’s a bit bumpy to drive, an adventure, and why shouldn’t I have a new adventure or toy? Not that it will be a toy but a useful tool. I am thinking of extending the farm, maybe even a vineyard and for that every good contadino deserves an Ape!

Trying belatedly to get into the Christmas spirit – festive not alcoholic, I’m feeling really irritated today.  I looked online to see where the Christmas Carol Concerts are being held in the region.  Nothing like a good sing-song and a bit of mistletoe and holly to get me feeling festive.

To my annoyance I discovered that last Thursday 19 December Andrea Bocelli was leading a carol concert in the splendid and appropriate setting of the Upper Basilica of San Francesco in nearby Assisi, and I knew nothing about it and have missed it.

Logically living in the commune I have been following the events programme for my local town of Gubbio.  Somewhat depressingly uninspiring, the programme lists events such as  a cooking course, a taste and sample of local delicacies – but only for those staying in the town one night minimum and on presentation of a ticket, naturally the “Christmas Market in the Piazza Grande” and tonight (previsto) a concert under the tree at the church of San Domenico.  This information being circulated to operators as early as the 18th. of December, well in time for us to do our marketing and bring in tourists in their droves….Gubbio - the Christmas market, Piazza Grande 2013No, it’s not a shed sale…

Such is the strange ways of tourism promotion in this part of Italy that each town publicises only their own events and pays no attention whatsoever to events in neighbouring cities, towns or villages.  What stupidity, why not share and jointly promote?  I know many of you guys would have loved to have stayed at Bellaugello Gay Guest House and travelled the scenic route to hear Bocelli sing in nearby Assisi.  Alas you and I have missed Bocelli, so near yet so far.

So I will listen to a recording of the concert and tune into Raiuno on Christmas day at 12.25.

A very personal post today.

All was so very good this morning at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, a still quiet dawn, the mist slowly lifting to reveal a clear blue sun filled sky, revealing  autumnal reds, golds, ambers and oranges in the woodlands that hug the valley sides below Bellaugello, the sort of early morning I just love.  The wispy mist breaking away and giving substance to the cobwebs spun magically between blades of grass and in low hanging tree branches, sparkling in the ever strengthening sun.  Swarovski does not come close.  So near to Christmas a day bringing friends and families back to the valley to be together and celebrate, today should have been a perfect day but alas not.

This is a blog about my life here in Umbria central Italy, running my Gay Guest House.  Much I write about is based around the business, what I get up to, the highs, the lows, the great guys I meet, my series of Bellaugello Backs, Dinner table  decorations, and several nonsensical events, but it is also a blog about what affects me and life here in rural Umbria. Most of my blog is light hearted, there is the occasional rant – often much deserved and about the inordinate Italian bureaucracy, the inefficiency of state systems, the challenges I face, and things that irritate me, but this post different, and is a difficult one.

The phone rang, a good friend….. informing me of the death of my neighbor’s son.  Killed in a road accident on his way to work this morning.  I am still in shock.  For those of you readers who have been to Bellaugello you will know his house, maybe passed him working on his tractor, his home the white farmhouse just over the hill from Bellaugello.  Roberto, a forty one year old father of three young children died this morning, his car hit head on by a drunk and drugged up individual driving a Mercedes too fast and who survived..

It cannot be true, but alas it is.

Roberto lived with his wife and kids, and in the traditional Italian way of family life.  In another part of the house lives his father, sister, her husband and their son, a close family who are superb neighbours and good friends.  Roberto was quite simply a nice guy, ever smiling, always willing to lend a hand, passionate, humorous, un anima favolosa, per me è stato un onore averlo conosciuto.

Today is his youngest son’s 3rd Birthday

Friday morning and I’m at the doctors. We are trying to tackle my asthma which is bad at the moment. In a fit of pique and ‘cos little else seems to be helping I have started a course of acupuncture
So this morning I am sitting in the doctor’s surgery with needles stuck into me – not much fun

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Outside the sun is shining weakly through a blue sky laced with puffy cumulus clouds, and like my breathing the air is still.