I see them sleepily staggering out of their cozy beds, I see them in the garden before breakfast, I see them at table sneakily catching a glance, and then again at the pool, in the car park, checking, always checking, it has become a daily feature of life here at Bellaugello.  Possibly one of the most irritating aspects of smartphone life is the extent to which the entire population has become obsessed with the weather.

Gone are the days when you would wake up and look out the window and see what the weather was doing and plan your day accordingly.  Long gone is the capacity to look around and judge where the better weather was, is and is heading, that skill has been dissipated.  Now we are mere robots, our days programmed by the mince we suck up from our smart phones.  No longer have we the choice to head off where we had dreamt of going, we are manipulated to go where the weather is ‘better’ to governed by the weather apps and more frighteningly by those who control the apps.

As a child in rural Scotland the family house looked out across a bay to distant hills, it was a soft and gentle view, the bay with lazy water, tides low, and lingering mist.  Any guest at the house asking the family ‘what is the weather going to do today?’ would be met with the reply ‘can you see the hills?  If you cannot see the hills then it is raining, if you can see the hills then it is going to rain!’

Can you see the hills?

So our days and theirs were planned, we headed off to the beach, trekked into forests and climbed hills, the huge fluffy cumulus clouds scudding across azure skies dictating our destination.  Naturally a map was a pre-requisite we never went anywhere without first consulting the atlas and maps.  Today we talk to our phones, tell them to take us to a certain address, safe in the knowledge that they will not necessarily take the best, most scenic, or sensible route, and at some point we will end up arguing when the nasal synthesised voice tells to ‘make a U turn’.  We have no idea where we are.  Any GPS navigator that I have seen has only lines and the space immediately around the vehicle I have been travelling in.  We have lost our sense of  belonging and our environment  and soon to loose also our capacity to relate to the outside world.  I read that a company is now offering to insert microchips into its staff, to enable them to pass the security barriers and pay for goods without the requirement for passing a card.  This is the beginning of what I forecast twenty odd years ago, a chip to communicate from and more scarily too, our freedom to live is rapidly dissolving.

But enough of the rant.  I am sitting at the table on the main terrace, sun beating down, the air clean and fresh.  It rained yesterday, just enough to be refreshing and give desperately needed hope to the plants, and which I love most, to clean the air.  Everything is crisp and clear, sharply in focus.  This morning guests were up early this time smartphones as cameras photographing the low mist in the valley below Bellaugello.  There was a good dew and crisp air so we served breakfasts inside round my beautiful antique table, now the day is warming up and guys are heading poolwards.

It has been an amazing couple of weeks.  Last week I had a visit by two of my nephews, for the eldest it was the first time he had been to Bellaugello, his stop here part of a grand camping tour taking in the south of France, Corsica and much of northern and central Italy.  For my youngest nephew a return trip, but as he had last been here some eight years ago when the house was still very much a building site he was probably the more stunned.  We had a great couple of days together, the old uncle even persuaded to do the tourist thing and go to Assisi.

Alec's nephews

I cannot remember when I was last there in high season, it has changed, now so many more tourists and hoardes of pilgrims each safely labelled lest they get lost or forget their name or denomination, all of them following guides with umbrellas and canes, or in one case a guide brandishing high above her head a tacky selfie-stick.  Shops filled with tat from foreign countries, cute young guys beckoning us into ‘genuine pizza’ restaurants, and finally to the basilica.  Now I still remain awestruck by the basilica, the Giotto frescoes and the atmosphere in the lower church where S Francesco’s tomb is found, it is quite stunning a great oeuvre d’art.  I do wonder exactly what this Francesco would make of it, perhaps he would be not over-enthusiastic in the materialism, but delighted in the longevity of his fame and continuing flow of income and interest to the business.

We headed to Bevagna, lunch at the divine ‘Bottega di Assù‘ twice in two months, the most time I have been there in two years, so spoilt.  This time Panzanella di Assù, cubes of the freshest tomatoes, celery, cucumber, pepperoni aromatic herbs and a hint of orange zest, so fresh so very local and honest. Then to Spello, that quaint Umbrian town that straddles a small hill, the main street winding casually uphill past chapels, enotecas, cashmere stores and gelaterias, soon time for an aperitivo.

Back at Bellaugello this has been another fabulous week.  Saying goodbye to guests this morning I remarked that all the rooms last night were occupied by guys who had been before, and the rooms coming in today are also returning guests.  It is remarkable to have 100% repeat business occupancy, I love it, time to catch up, so many gorgeous friends from all over the world, I genuinely look forward to their return, but I also love when new first timers arrive and are captivated by the charm of Bellaugello.  One particular guest comes to mind, a first timer who passed aperitivo time lazing on a sunbed in the garden of the Azzurro Suite near the lavender captivated by the insect life on the headily fragrant blooms.  He spotted huge amounts and varieties of insect life, I now have a greater list of insect visitors including a rare sighting of ‘Hemaris Fuciformis‘ the broad bordered bee hawk moth, a stunning green with red tips to the transparent wings.

Oh! and yes it is not only insects that are airborne at Bellaugello.  We went flying, up in a microlite, buzzing over the pool at Bellaugello, a holiday here can also be an adrenaline rush.

Even I, have got to the pool, sunbathing and swimming, my tan now looking good.  A few days ago we had a full pool and a crafty photographer, so my next post must be in the ‘Bellaugello Backs’ series, lots of gorgeous fun guys.

Peeking out on the world I see the newspapers here have been reporting on the bed and breakfast owner near Vibo Valentia who refused accommodation to two guys because “we don’t accept gays and animals”.   I can assure you here at Bellaugello both are welcomed with open arms and the sun is shining and the welcome warm.

I am delighted to announce Bellaugello’s collaboration with the language school of  Lingua Più based in Città di Castello.  We have put together a week of total immersion in Umbrian culture. This course is specifically tailored for gay guys, and is your chance to learn Italian in an informal way whilst visiting historic towns such as Assisi and Perugia, being driven the ‘Strada di Sagrantino’ the fabulous wine road of Umbria – of course with wine tasting 😉  guided tours of museums, the fabulous Burri Foundation, and experiencing a day on a working farm, all accompanied by staff of Lingua Più.

#Bellaugello Lingua Più language course

La mia Umbria – Italian language course tailored for gay guys

Based at Bellaugello Gay Guest House with its wonderful infinity pool, your days with a driver will be accompanied by professional teachers of the language school Lingua Più who personally know this beautiful region and will teach you how to make the most of your Italian experience.  There are 56 hours tuition in the course.  Courses are available throughout the season Bellaugello is open.  Get a group together and book the whole guest house and live la dolce vita!

Gay Italian language course based at Bellaugello Gay Guest House

Italian language course tailored for gay guys based at Bellaugello

Book direct with the language school by clicking here: Lingua Più Language School where you will also find full details of the programme of this wonderful week.

Always a delight to receive an invitation to visit friends across the valley and have dinner with them, especially if cheekily I did invite myself and Michael!

Martin and Etain are known to some of my guests here at Bellaugello Gay Country House, they are the couple who have the most tranquil halcyon organic farm that for over thirty years has welcomed and inspired many from all over the world.  As well as nurturing their pastures organically and tending with much love their animals, they are both published authors.  Etain was recently in Rome having been asked to present and read from her latest volume of diaries, where she so elloquently recounts traditions and stories of her life in beautiful Valdichiascio.  This latest book “The Life of the White Mare” published in 2015

Etain Addey, la vita della giumenta bianca

includes a chapter on an event at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  It is such an honour for me to read of an event hosted here that is so delightfully and thoughtfully recounted.  You can buy a copy of the book here: La Vita della Giumenta Bianca

Anyway back to last night.  Michael and I drove across the valley, it had been a wonderfully hot and balmy day, we had spent time with the dogs down at the river Chiascio, which after recent rains in the Apennines was still muddy, but that did not stop the dogs from swimming freely.  Arriving at the farm, Etain was just off to milk the sheep so Michael asked if he could follow they encountered the donkeys and Michael stopped to say hello as they nuzzled to Etain looking for food, then to the hen house where six orphan chickens were roosting on an empty wine butt, looking shyly at the intrusion into their tranquillity, and for the first time in his life Michael cuddled in with sheep and tasted the fresh milk, he was thrilled.

I headed with Martin over to the vinyard which he had just recently sprayed and is looking spectacular, the vines heavy with newly forming bunches of grapes, it is clearly going to be a great vendemmia.

Vines in the evening light in ValdichiascioSerried rows of vines in ValdichiascioPendulous grapes in the vineyard at Valdichiascio

We headed back to the farmhouse to be met by the soft aroma of pasta cooked with the last of the artichokes, and we dined in company under the uva fragole – the strawberry grapes, chatting and swapping stories as Jupiter and Venus rose in the western sky, a truly magical evening in a truly magical spot.

 

All this year storm clouds have brewed and brewed.  Clouds have been small, huge, gigantic, stubborn and angry, dark and light, many and few, high and low.  At times it felt as if the whole world was stormy, the outlook grey and thoroughly depressing, looking out of the window it certainly seem that way, and all the time I have been hoping, and wishing that the clouds would lift and today they seem to have, Bellaugello Gay Country House’s new website has finally gone online.   It may be late, very late, but then it IS Italy so delays are what is specialised in, but ‘domani’ has finally arrived.  I hope you like it!

Storm clouds over the snow covered infinity pool at Bellaugello Gay Country House in Umbria, Italy,#BellaugelloBellaugello rising from the mistRed sunset and clouds over Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Umbria, ItalySunrise over Bellaugello Gay Guest HouseStorm clouds over the Basilica of AssisiStormy weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And with our new BOOK ONLINE feature booking at Bellaugello is so much easier, your dream holiday is just a couple of clicks away!

 

Sunshine, comfort, a swimming pool crystal clear and waiting….  Bellaugello is waiting peacefully for next week and the “Festa dei Ceri” the traditional “Race of the Candles” held in our local town of Gubbio every 15 May

The flag of S Ubaldo the patron saint of Gubbio hanging in the gardens at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Umbria, Italy

We are ready, are you?  There are still some suites available for next week, come join in the fun.  Grab a flight to our local airport of Perugia S Francesco di Assisi which are are aplenty.  Quote “ceri 2015” for a 10% discount on a stay that includes 15 May 2015. Email us at: book@bellaugello.com