Last weekend at Bellaugello was a real delight. For the first time at Easter all our guests at Bellaugello Gay Guest House were Italian so I had to switch my brain permanently out of English into Italian, always good.
The weekend kicked off with the “Processione di Cristo Morto” in Gubbio our local town. This was the subject of my last post, if you have not seen it then check the video it is mesmerising. On Saturday the guys headed into the sauna to sweat away their cares and then we dined together, seated in front of the roaring fire around our antique family table, rounding off the meal with some of my home-made limoncello and a raucous conversation. On Sunday the breakfast table as well as the usual home made breads, cakes, yoghurts and jams was filled with local specialities, prosciutto and affettati, the rich Crescia di Pasqua, a delicious risen cheese loaf, speciality of the region and of course there was also sweet cake and hard boiled eggs to decorate and eat, plenty of caffè and mysteriously arrived easter bunnies and chocolate.
Then, late morning, as tradition dictates we headed off across our beautiful sun drenched valley to lunch with friends on their organic farm. My friends host a fun lunch with egg rolling, the object apparently depending on whether or not you wish to get married or pregnant, being to smash or not smash your egg. I never quite remember whether to find love the egg must remain whole or not, so one year I pitch it low and it stays intact, another I toss high and it breaks, but for me every year ‘rien ça change’!
Lunch was as ever magnificent. The family cook and guests bring food from their homes to share with fellow guests. One of Bellaugello’s guests brought the most delicious ‘arancini’ from Rome. On Saturday when he arrived at Bellaugello they were still warm and so so fragrant. Quickly re-heated on Sunday they were much appreciated by all. For me you can keep your smart hotels, mega-yachts and pretensions. Being able to share with my guests occasions such as this lunch in the dappled shade of the Mulberry tree with warm welcoming, generous, caring hosts, who cook and host with love, always welcoming strangers into their home with open arms is really special, something no amount of money can buy. It is a really relaxing and convivial occasion, together with a delightful group of people from many countries, my guests from Bellaugello are made to feel welcome, and an integral part of the occasion. In today’s hectic and suspicious life that is, I suggest rare, and for me, one of the greatest benefits and joys of living in this quiet untroubled corner of Europe.
On Tuesday the weather turned and long awaited rain was delivered. The rain was hard and driving, the wind turned north easterly and for a while the temperature dropped dramatically. I awoke on Wednesday to snow on the Apennines, quite a shock not only to me but to the tender shoots springing up madly in gardens and fields here.
By the afternoon the sun had returned, bringing with it real warmth and I spent a delicious time cutting the lawns and tidying around the garden. Tonight is forecast to be cold, I know there will be many a farmer walking well before dawn and heading down to their vineyard to light small fires to keep the chill away from the setting fruit, it’s the way they have always protected their vines. I myself, viziato, will still be tucked up warm and cozy in bed!
This weekend there is a wine festival in Città di Castello, a historic town a bit further up the Tiber valley. We plan to head there and sample the array of wines from young and innovative producers from all over Umbria. Please someone call me a taxi!