Finally the rains have come, delightful light but persistent rain, the type that really soaks into the ground and is exactly what we need here. Never did I think that I would be saying such words, but I am. Outside my kitchen window all, but the last golden oak leaves clinging precariously to the trees, is grey monochrome. Wispy clouds rise up from the valley floor and break free, float skywards before dispersing, it is good to know that nature is replenishing itself.
Neighbours talk that we will not see a cold winter here, they forecast a mild spring, indeed the daffodils have been in flower for some weeks and the other day I noticed an almond tree in full bloom, the delicate white flowers dancing in the light breeze. Mild is good, but rain is essential, and let it rain now to give us a beautiful sunny season.
Out to lunch, a drive across the valley, and into the warmth of the dining room, stove ablaze, wine poured, bubbling chatter and home-made rösti, utterly divine. One guest asked of our host about his cheese, they have just started milking the sheep and a forma of ‘Pecorino primo sale’ was brought up from the dairy and cut open. This cheese is only a few days old, light, fragrant and delicate. New fresh cheese, indicative of spring just around the corner.
Of course life here in rural Umbria and Valdichaiscio in particular is never complete without a new book published, and after lunch Etain slipped a copy of the long awaited English translation of her book ‘Acque profonde’ – ‘From the Deep Well’ into my bag.
To me Etain is one of the most beautiful writers I have read, she has a lyrical way with words so that every detail she describes appears in front of one as if you are actually present at the scene, a small bird sitting on a branch of a tree silently entranced witnessing and recording everything.
As well as featuring one of my favourite paintings on the cover, Etain personally signed my copy and since that lunch in any spare moment I have been devouring her prose.
Whilst on the subject of books I have an apology to make to three people. I have had some guys working to resolve the broken parts and correct errors and omissions on the Bellaugello website. The web designers just were not capable of getting it right, a huge and costly error that has had to be patiently untangled and even more patiently re-made. One of the new (now also ex) ‘experts’ managed by mistake to work on the main website not the test site and made a huge cock-up, (history repeating itself?) so there was no option other than to restore the site to a previous back-up which was made and in the process without being informed I lost a month’s worth of blog posts including a lengthy piece I wrote about four books published in 2015 by authors all personally known to me. It was a lovely post describing each book and giving links to the individual publishers. Sadly my writing memory cannot re-create that post, but here again for those of you who missed it is the list of books published in 2015 by authors who are great friends and great authors.
In no particular order:
The Way of St Francis A thoroughly researched guidebook on the pilgrim route walk that starts in Florence and passes through Tuscany, Umbria, close to Bellaugello and on into Lazio arriving in Rome. Sandy has walked the route and spent some time here at Bellaugello writing up his notes, returning to personally hand me a signed copy of the guidebook. For anyone who loves walking meandering through central Italy this is an amazing route and this is a must have guidebook.
Maquis A factual historical novel romping through intrigue and espionage in the second world war in southern France. Bing has stayed at Bellaugello Gay Guest House many times, and as well as making great orange marmalade is a great writer. This is Bing’s first book and an intelligent read on a subject that has been largely overlooked. He has also managed to include into the narrative a gay love story, sensitively written.
My third book The Fragrant Concubine is by Melissa Addey, for who like Bing this is her first novel. Besed in the forbidden city of Peking Melissa has descriptions of life for the concubines tumbling off the page like petals strewn to the wind. This is the first book I bought for my Kindle, no regrets, it is magical, and any blog reader who has the wherewithall should snap up the film rights, it is epic.
Also by Melissa is a more practical book, maybe an odd subject for a gay blog, and I know that by no means are all my readers gay, and a perfect for a present to a new mum, 100 things to do whilst breastfeeding and let’s face it who does not know a new mum? I sent a copy to my principessa in Glasgow.
To round off the books for 2015 was the latest edition of Etain’s Pratale Diaries. La vita della giumenta bianca, ‘the life of the white foal’ published in Italian and including a chapter on Bellaugello Gay Guest House describing the evening ‘Serenata’ we held here on the day before a wedding we were hosting. Thanks for the inclusion Etain it means alot.
So guys there is your holiday reading. From this site not only can you book the best gay guest house in Italy, but you have holiday reading suggestions too… Get booking and buying!