I was out in the woods the other day looking for wild mushrooms. It is the right time of year for these heavenly treats, and the woodlands around Gubbio are generous providers. Like visitors to the recent unpublicised Festa of white truffles in Gubbio I found few, and speaking with a neighbour who passed me in the car with my almost empty basket it seems I was not unique, there are not so many this year. He warned me to be very careful, apparently a family from the top of the valley had all been admitted to hospital having been careless in their choice of wild mushrooms.
Autumn is such a glorious time of year here in Umbria at Bellaugello Gay Guest House. The air newly cleaned after rains last night, the sun still hot, there is perfect peace, the garden abounds with golden and ruddy hues. After showering indulgently under one of the outdoor showers here I went and grabbed my camera so to share with you.
Such a magical time, one last burst of energy before the onset of winter. I am busy with maintenance, the little jobs that just do not get done through the summer and the big one like pruning back the rampant wisteria that seems to want to climb ever skyward over the roof, I flit form job to job. The beauty, the endless birdsong, and company of the dogs nuzzling in the hedgerows helps me forget the endless back-breaking piles of leaves I will soon be raking up in the garden and emptying from the infinity pool.
This weekend maybe a chance for some ‘down time’ a choice of activities. The splendid cantina of Antinori near Montefalco is open, their vines recently harvested are a blaze of autumn colours and they are offering wine tastings and tours, very tempting… The alternative is the ‘Festa del Bosco’ at the pretty Umbrian hill top town of Montone, always an amazing event, stalls groaning with chestnuts, honey, wild mushrooms, truffles and berries. Maybe I can fit them both in…
I have slipped into farming mode, yesterday again I was out clearing around the olive trees, and it seems that we are to be starting picking next week. Reports from those who have already picked, (they are lower in altititude and so the olives ripen earlier) is that the yield is low but quality high. That reminds me I must check the oil level in the Ape, it will be venturing to the Frantoio!
An afternoon break saw me head into Gubbio, I had the winter tyres in the back of the car and they were to be fitted, cushions at the dry cleaners which should have been ready were not and a meeting with my Geometra, who by sheer good luck he was checking on progress on his new house, so I got a ‘preview’ of the extensive renovations. So good to be able to spend time visiting and not feel guilty! Back next week for the cushions, they were ‘still drying’.
Last night I trekked across the valley to visit Luigi and Veronica at their large farm, we sat round the kitchen table discussing farming and swapping recipes. I had taken over a loaf of my Scottish Soda Bread, and despite really trying very hard to refuse came home with some sfogliatina made by Maria, Luigi’s mother. I am dieting so they are in the freezer! Why am I dieting, well for those of you guys who were here in the summer you will have noticed that I have got rather fat and with a wedding invitation late November I plan to wear my kilt and not have my stomach overhang the waistband so no carbs or alcohol for me at the mo.
This morning a friend called for advice (and not the first one) on how to pick olives. Her family were, this spring busy pruning or clearing their long-abandoned trees and she looks to me for advice as to how to pick! It is beyond nice for me to receive calls from Italians and locals looking for advice on local traditions! Me a foreigner giving advice on harvesting olives, who would have thought. I am flattered and somewhat honoured.
As I write I am sitting at my kitchen window, there is a pot of thick vegetable and bean soup bubbling on the stove, as my friend Anne says, soup so good for the soul.
Which of course leads me on to Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa the now ex ‘senior Vatican priest’ whose interview with the BBC I listened to with interest. Click the link to hear the interview: Monsignor Charamsa talks to the BBC’s Caroline Wyatt
I would really like Krzysztof and his partner to visit Bellaugello. What he spoke about hit a nerve or two here, so many of my guests were born or raised Catholic and the issues he raises are very pertinent and so so true. I am keen to invite him here to stay and be at dinner at our large table on the terrace under the stars, on round my family table in the dining room, it would be magical, healing and educational.