Wow! what a busy, joyous and merry festive period we have had here at Bellaugello. I have been surrounded by delightful people and participated in lovely events. My mantlepiece is adorned with cards, for which a huge ‘thank you’.
Luckily I have not received one of those gushing odoius “round robin” letters, you know the type that glow with the bountieous good fortune that other families seem to have and require to share with their poor friends… “We have new neighbours; George and Amal are moving in to the small house next door to ours… they flew us in the LearJet to the Oscars. Dahling Milly having passed all her school exams A++++ has been invited to study at Harvard gaining a scolarship (highest ever marks in the entrance exam). Our golden twin sons Max and Olaf got married this year to Chuck and Vladim – also twins and famous models, you will see the four of them in the new Dior campaigns. Little 15 year old Justin has, from his bedroom launched a new internet company that is going global and already valued at $5000 billion, dear Hugo was knighted in the new year’s honours list, he is now a belted earl, and Maud having recovered from her previously thought incurable illness is now trekking backwards on her hands up the Eiger” etc. etc. I do so hate those, why can these people never do anything worng or have bad times or just be normal? and so I will not do the same, but treading gently on the words, write you merely a brief recap of some of what has been going on these past ten days and some of what is to come here in delicious Umbria, that is afterall what my random jottings are all about.
The weather has been unseasonably warm, to the extent as regular readers will know that we ate Christmas lunch in the sunshine outside on the terrace, and he now reveals after lunch played ‘cards against humanity’ a game that I find hillarious but possibly was not quite approved of by all, hey ho! Whilst the sun is hot the nights are chilly and the underfloor heating kept us all toasty warm.
This year for the first time I was joined by some of my family who travelled over from the UK, a triple celebration, Christmas, new year and a cousin’s 50th birthday, phew a lot of partying.
The big birthday was celebrated on 29th and late afternoon I drove the family into my local town of Gubbio where you will find the “World’s Largest Christmas Tree” at this time of year the entire hillside is illuminated. Taking the funivia up to the top of the hill behind the beautiful medieval city, they were blown away by the twinkling lights of the city far below. We headed into the church of S Ubaldo the patron saint of the city, the 12c saint in a glass coffin atop the main altar. Definitely a bit spooky, but part of the history of this special town.
Notable too are the famous “Three Ceri” or 300kg wooden candles which for fifty weeks of the year live in the church before being processed down to the city on the first Sunday of May to await the 15th of May the day of the “Festa dei Ceri” when they are erected and raced round the town by men in white pants and yellow, black or blue shirts before in the evening being run back up the hill. Undoubtably this festa is one of the most splendid medieval festivals in Italy and a great reason to visit Umbria and stay at Bellaugello.
Walking across the delightful cloister we popped our heads into the museum to be welcomed warmly by the lady behind the desk who so carefully wrapped the souveniers chosen by my cousin’s children and gave us an explaination of the exhibits. This is a museum that I had not previously visited, but will recommend to guests of Bellaugello, the displays are bilingual and explain clearly the history of the town and the festa of 15th May each year.
After an aperitivo we walked down to the city under the christmas tree, the path and trees gaily lit by the coloured lights strung over the hillside.
In company with friends both local and global we dressed in black tie and national costume for the Bellaugello Scottish Italian Cenone of 31st December. Sitting down in candlelight at eight pm we rose nine delicious courses later at eleven thirty pm just in time to head out onto the terrace to bring in 2016 with ‘Franciacorta’ and paper wish lanterns which we launched into the inky black windless sky that was as if by command encircled by fireworks from the villages that surround the valley of the Chiascio river so well overlooked from Bellaugello.
As you can imagine there was lots of food eaten and wine imbibed, culminating in a very late brunch on 1st of January, yes, we brought in 2016 in style.
This afternoon I took the dogs on a much required walk. The countryside which following much needed 24 hours of rain, it being the first rain for almost four months was looking lush in the golden sunset.
Returning home it seems you guys have also been busy, many planning their holidays and booking Bellaugello, our online “Book Now” button making booking so much easier for you all. I am delighted to see many return guests and several new ones already booked up, the “Bellaugello Backs” photo series will definitely be resumed, and expanded this year, photos are requested.
It is going to be a splendid season here in 2016 which has been reflected once again by recognition by “Eccellenze Italiane” of the quality of Bellaugello Gay Guest House, the scheme reflecting hand picked businesses both in Italy and abroad. Good to see that a niche busines such as our is recognised.
By popular request I am proposing several themed holidays this year. In May we will once again be offering a “Hiking Week”, glorious walking and hiking with a qualified guide in the Apennine hills. A proposal for a “Singles Week” will become a reality. I am looking at some team activities for all to participate in, a chance to get to get to know fellow guests. And of course back by popular demand a “Cooking and Wine Tasting” week and private cooking courses.
I plan to re-open Bellaugello on 24th March in time for Easter. We will kick off the season with the “Processione di Cristo Morto” on Friday 25/03 the magical and haunting procession in Gubbio, before celebrating Easter with lunch at a neighbouring farm in the valley to which guests of Bellaugello are always invited. I just ask that you bring some food from your country to share with other guests and the hosts. It is a very informal warm, friendly, relaxing and delightful event that sets the theme for holidays in Valdichiascio.
With that before I begin to gush I will sign off for now, the kettle is boiled and I need a cup of tea, so just time to say I look forward to welcoming many friends back to Bellaugello and to making lots of new ones, and with that to wish you all a very successful and happy 2016.