Umbria is a very beautiful region in central Italy.  Bordered in the east by the majestic Apennines and to the west filled with the vast expanse of Lago Trasimeno there is a huge variety of delicious countryside to enjoy.  Drive along quiet roads and discover a sleepy village, or iconically beautiful hilltop town.  There inevitably will be a decent osteria or trattoria for lunch, and of course a bottle of  great Umbrian wine to put you into fully relax mode.

I have driven many roads in the region, each one a real delight.  Be it between fields of tall sunflowers, or in shady woodland or high over a hill, the variety is immense and so, so Italian.  I have also had the good fortune to experience Umbria from the air as I fly a microlite.   I dart over hill and vale in what seems an impossibly small machine, but one that gives me such an adrenaline rush.

At Bellaugello Gay Guest House we have teamed up with Cantina Dionigi.  Starting in mid May we are able to offer guests the opportunity to fly over Umbria in something a bit larger than a microlite; a hot air balloon or Mongolfiera.

Taking off early morning from near the beautiful town of Bevagna, in your hot air balloon adventure over Umbria Captain Peter will fly you over the town of Assisi and surrounding countryside.  With 26 years experience as a pilot Peter is one of the most qualified pilots in hot air ballooning.  It is a very different way to see the countryside. Ideal for that special gift for your husband or loved one.

Your flight will last approximately one hour and be a breathtaking experience.

On landing you will be taken to Cantina Dionigi for a good breakfast and a wine tasting.  I say an excellent start to any day of an Italian holiday.

Flights in the hot air balloon adventure over Umbria cost €180 per person including the breakfast and wine tasting.  You can add the flight option during the online booking process.  Or, if you have already booked your stay at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, drop me an email and I will happily make the reservation for you.  All flights are obviously subject to decent weather, and an early (very early) start is required.

Possibly the only joy of getting up before dawn to ready breakfasts for early departures is the benefit of witnessing the sunrise over Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  When I am clever I set my cellphone to time lapse and record the sunrise over the Apeninnes.  When I am somnambulant I manage to set a slo-mo video and record three hours of blackness.  This morning I got it right, with my phone planted in the garden, it recorded “l’alba”.

Early rising, means saying goodbye to guests who are departing.   It is saying ‘ciao’ to guys who, during their stay have become friends and who plan to return.  This morning birdsong punctuates the air, I see new buds on trees and shrubs and everywhere virgin verdant greens and spring flowers.  The tulips managed to open in time to say cheerio to the guys.  The air is still crisp, and delightfully clear. It was a group of guys from Berlin who were departing.  They take an annual week’s holiday together, and had made the most of their first time here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  Not only did they enjoy time poolside, but they travelled extensively in the region, visiting Urbino, Assisi, Spello, Bevagna, and obviously our local town of Gubbio.

Spring is a time of re-birth and new life.  Just the other day I spied that our resident Owl had hatched a chick.  We have always had Owls nesting here in a pigeon hole in the old house and because it is less tidy than usual I think the nest has been passed from mother to daughter, and she had pushed out a shell to the landing platform.

Owl is very shy and I have to be really careful that she does not see me otherwise she flies the nest.  My evenings are filled with the calling of her mate.  I imagine he calls ‘dinner is on it’s way‘ and she replies ‘hurry I am starving and need to stretch my wings‘.  They call several times throughout the night.  If I am very lucky I see one of them fly swiftly and silently into the nest.  I find that magical.

Finally the comune has sent men to do some road repairs.  Not before time we all say.  The large project we applied for last year did not receive the first tranche of funding but it is in the pipeline again for this year and of course moved up the ranking.  We fought hard to convince the comune that in the meantime the road needs to be maintained.  So this week the grader has been cleaning ditches and levelling the surface of the dirt road.  We had a couple of hilarious days of driving through mud slides, but gravel is on its way and the surface will be much improved.

Deciding to pop over and see my neighbours and chat about the road, I took them a beautiful organic Pecorino cheese made by my good friend Martino.  It is always a danger dropping in to my neighbours, they are so kind and hospitable.  I cannot go for five minutes, I always end up staying some considerable time, being invited into their kitchen and offered a couple of glasses of wine.  We chat away, discussing the strange weather, the strange politicians, and the strange fact that work has actually started on the road.  Another glass of wine, I am once again feeling light headed.  Finally I manage to tear myself away but not before they load me up with ‘qualche uova‘ – some eggs…

and a bunch of fresh wild asparagus.  I just cannot ever mange to go with a gift and not get one back in return…

Last night Mauro and I sat together and feasted on a ‘frittata con asparagi selvatici‘, the freshest of food locally sourced.   That is the joy of living here, the friendship and goodness that is Umbria.

Life is not all work and yesterday afternoon, my tasks done I managed to strip off and sneak an hour at the infinity pool at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  The water is still too cold for me to enter, but the sun got to over 23˚c and I managed to get a decent bit of colour.  Despite what you see in the photo I was not alone at the pool, everyone had decided that the sun merited their presence poolside, reading, chatting, relaxing, snoozing.

But now it is nine am, it seems that I have already done a day’s work, however there is still much to do, so off I must trot and get back to routine tasks.  It has been good chatting to you, I hope your day is as good as mine will surely be even if it is not poolside 🙂

 

Friday morning brought a bit of sun and our first guests of the season.   It had been a frenetic few weeks at Bellaugello Gay Guest House getting everything ready and preparing for the arrival of the first guys.  I am always amazed that no matter how much I fill my days throughout the winter there is ever a seemingly endless list of small jobs that still require attention right up to the last minute.

Mauro is back, (yippee!) he will be here once again for the season and together we welcomed guests and friends and on Friday evening headed into Gubbio for the “Processione di Cristo Morto” which I have described in previous posts.

On our way in to town the skies opened and torrential rain fell and bounced off the streets.  We divedd into an enoteca and squashed around a tiny table and downed a couple of glasses of prosecco and enjoyed an aperitivo of prosciutto and pecorino, whilst waiting for the rain to subside.

The crowds began to accumulate so we headed out to grab our vantage point at the corner of Piazza Bosone and whilst struggling with umbrellas attempted to capture the event.

I am a creature of habit and we headed to Ristorante dei Consoli for dinner as ever served by the welcoming Francesca.  I like this restaurant as it is on the route of the procession and midway through dinner we were able to see the celebrants still processing in the historic centre.

By Sunday the rain had turned to intermittent hail, but keeping with tradition some of us headed over to a neighbouring organic farm where we have an invitation to join them for Easter Lunch and Egg rolling.  Now I never remember the rules of the egg rolling.  It does not matter how many times and in what languages they are explained to me I simply do not remember if I should aim to break my egg or aim to roll it intact.  Two results, one means that someone in your family will get pregnant, the other that things will stay the same.  Needless to say although I lobbed my egg gently it smashed to smithereens.  I think that means no babies for me, hooray!  Lunch was exquisite and by the time puddings were brought out we were able to enjoy them in the sunshine in the wonderful courtyard at Pratale.

Replete we headed back to Bellaugello Gay Guest House, time for the guys to relax.  For Mauro and me to light the sauna, arrange massages and for me to jump into the kitchen to prepare for dinners. More guests were due to arrive late afternoon.  I planned a light supper which grew into something rather larger.  Alessandro another friend and my yoga master had brought Arancini with him from Rome, Mauro had brought up the most dreamily creamy delicious burrata from Puglia, and my great friend Otto spoilt us all with a superb Passito from Pantelleria;

At midnight we opened Prosecco to celebrate Roberto, another guest’s Birthday, it was a great international party.

I am often asked when the pool at Bellaugello Gay Guest House opens for the season, and how warm it is at various times of the year.  I hate being asked questions about the weather.  These days as we all know the weather is so totally unpredictable, seasons seem to want to be a mix of every other season.  We are all becoming weather obsessed.  When I am in charge of the world one of the first things I will implement will be a ban on cellphone weather apps.  They are always wrong, constantly changing their predictions, everyone is fixated on them, and their lives revolve around the mis-predicitons, I so despair!  The pool is not officially open yet but it did not stop one brave guest sneaking in and taking a dip….

And just because I like it so much here is a short clip of the “Miserere” sung in Gubbio last Friday: