We open Bellaugello Gay Guest House for the 2018 season at the end of March. Today, sitting at my kitchen window overlooking the grey frozen Umbrian countryside, with the Burian in full force, outdoors is silent, the birds are sheltering from the storm and it hardly seems possible that the weather is soon to change and spring is on its way, but it is. My view of blown snow is abundant, trees are sheathed in ice, their branches are glistening in the intermittent sharp sunlight. With the backdrop of the Apennines magically white and deeply blanketed with crunchy with snow it is winter at its finest and a good time to plan a gay holiday spring break away.
By tradition we open our doors a few days before Easter and for good reason, there is a special event I adore and love to share with Bellaugello guests. The evening of the Friday before Easter in Gubbio, a magical and beautifully preserved medieval town is filled with haunting chanting of the Miserere as the “Processione di Cristo Morto” winds its way slowly through the narrow city streets.
To quote from the body responsible for the procession; the Confraternita Santa Croce dalla foce “the Procession of the Dead Christ is a sacred symbolic representation of the Passion and Death of Jesus. It represents a popular religious tradition that has been embodied for centuries in the social and cultural fabric of the people of Gubbio and in which the whole city participates with devotion“.
The first sound we hear is the clacking of the ‘battistrangoli’ the decorated wooden boards with metal rings turned by hand that announce the arrival of the procession. Soon to arrive are ‘incappucciati’, the celebrants sheathed in a hood that covers the entire face with just two holes for the eyes. The hood is seen as a sign of humility and anonymity: Faces and social classes are hidden … all are seen as equal in the eyes of Jesus. Soon the streets are filled with the haunting sounds of the Miserere a mournful chant that precedes the arrival of the dead Christ carried high by the celebrants.
We spend the evening in Gubbio, dining in a restaurant which is passed by the procession. For those interested you can read more, see many photographs and listen to the Miserere and the beautiful chorus of the “Pie Donne” by clicking on this link: Santa Croce Gubbio
April is a time when Umbria comes alive. Come discover it! Come take advantage of Bellaugello Spring deals. We are offering four night midweek breaks at a huge 25% discount on our daily rates. Choose your luxury suite, check-in Sunday or Monday and stay four nights.
Pay three nights and we give you the last night accommodation and breakfast for free. See the website Deals page for full details, or just click HERE to book your break now! To take up our offer during the booking process simply enter “Rock” in the promotional code box.
Fields that have been sown over the winter begin to turn verdant green, roads are not too busy. Umbrian blossom trees give generously, vines are pruned and new shoots are appearing, a fine time for that long wished for vineyard visit and wine tasting. Cantinas like Di Filippo who make stunning bio wines, and Lunelli with their unusual Carapace visitor centre welcome Bellaugello guests.
If your preference is for leisurely eco-tourism wend your way on a bike along quiet roads in beautiful countryside through some of Umbria’s many beautiful hilltop villages. Of course, always remembering to stop off for a delicious lunch.
For those keen to keep fit there are many challenging bike trails. The thrill seekers in you will head up the slopes of the Apennines in the Monte Cucco regional park where challenging trails take you through spectacular scenery far from the madding crowd. Our local bike shop can rent you a great bike, helmet and all the required kit. Just let me know and I will arrange it for you.
Or, maybe you prefer to be Italian and rent a Vespa…. All is possible here!
Maybe you prefer to go by foot?
Go ‘Urban Trekking‘ and you will find yourself walking through one of the many beautiful medieval towns in the region, allowing you to discover the thousand faces of a town, its hidden places, its people, its underground, its curiosities and its artistic treasures. My favourites are many and include Spoleto, Bevagna and Montone.
Still not convinced? Here are some further ideas for places to visit during your gay holiday at Bellaugello:
Driving up from Rome you pass near Orvieto. Take time to look around the Etruscan town. Explore its astonishingly impressive Duomo with its sculptured facade, to my mind the most beautiful in Umbria, and inside some very interesting frescoes, frescoed indubitably with a love that dare not speak its name. Head underground to the city below the city, two thousand five hundred years of digging has produced a labyrinth of passageways and chambers. The underground tour takes one hour.
Not to be missed is the ‘Pozzo di san Patrizio‘. Designed by the architect-engineer Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and completed in 1536 The 53 metre deep well (248 steps) is encircled by double helix ramps allowing mules to bring up water to the city.
A hop skip and a jump away from Orvieto brings you to the long footbridge to Cività di Bagnoregio, a 2500 year old car free hamlet that sits atop an extinct volcano. I discovered it on my first trip to Umbria many many years ago. Then it was forgotten, deserted, desolate, and had a population of five. Now it has become a heritage site and is becoming too busy in the summer to visit, but April is a perfect time. Walk over the long bridge and soak up the atmosphere, wander freely through the timeless film-set like streets. Enter the church, drink a caffè or Aperol Spritz in one of the trattorias that offer local dishes, absorb ‘la vita quotidiana’ as it has been lived through the centuries.
Another great day trip from Bellaugello takes you to southern Umbria. In the 1950s the Milanese architect Tomaso Buzzi purchased the old former Franciscan convent and turned it into a theatrical fantasy known as ‘La Scarzuola“. Embodying architecture and allegory from throughout the ages the village is a unique gaily whimsy delight.
…and not forgetting the sybarites who are able to tear themselves away during their gay holiday from Bellaugello’s sauna a ‘must’ trip takes you past Lago Trasimeno and just into Tuscany to the Terme at San Casciano dei Bagni. These ancient Roman terme were restored some thirty years ago. Three simple baths sit by the side of a dirt road below the charming town. We tend to go early evening, it can be more fun. The water is deliciously hot, not too sulphurous, jump in, relax, enjoy.
The choice is vast. Umbria is not only a region of churches and museums but unique curiosities. With a gay holiday stay at Bellaugello you are going to be captivated and want to return.
For more in depth information on the region visit the: Umbria Tourism Website