Sunshine and warmth at Bellaugello Gay Guest House have been the predominant feature throughout September.   It is a month I enjoy;  The infinity pool is deliciously swim-able,  the heat of high summer has warmed the land and the stones of our ancient house, and autumn colours just begin to show their golden ruddy hues.

Early mornings are magical, mist clinging to the valley below whirls and swirls gently.  Slowly it lifts and dissipates to reveal another fine day.

I am particularly sad right now as I am not at Bellaugello.  A long planned short trip to Istanbul to both see the sights and meet a friend has me sitting, not at my kitchen window, but, in a hipster hotel bedroom.  My view through a grimy narrow window has me looking down an alleyway.  So very different to the large views at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.   The strokes of my keyboard are punctuated by the hammering of drills, grinders cutting steels and busy city life.

Flying in, the immensity of the city, a city I had long dreamt of visiting exceeded my imagination.  A massive white city with futuristic skyscrapers punctuating blue skies.  Straddling the Bosphorus, the beginning and meeting of two cultures had always drawn my curiosity.   The road from the airport to the city runs along the shore of the Bosphorus.   The water punctuated with tankers and cargo ships each petulantly announcing the movement of global mass trade.  Lining the shore new skyscraper apartment buildings reach skyward.  Stainless steel and glass, security entrances, irrigated gardens, I’m sure they have awesome views and fine concierge services.  Sadly they are unlikely to be lived in, built solely for investment.  Like ubiquitous street furniture architecture has become globally bland and depressingly uniform.  Another day another city but the same banality.  Simply September is best at Bellaugello.

Banal is not a term that you can use about Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  We strive to be normal, but rarely achieve it.  September has been a red month.  We delighted in hosting a young couple of honeymoon guys from the USA.  Red roses on arrival, petals strewn on the bed,  a private dinner cooked for them and served in their suite.  Romance and a honeymoon crafted with love, you cannot beat it!

Their pampering included relaxing massages on a deck deep in the beauty of the Bellaugello Gay Guest House gardens.  Simply September at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.

Recently I spent a hot day at my neighbour’s organic farm harvesting red grapes.  We worked down the rows on the softly sloping hillside.  Conversation flowed as we plucked juicy red grapes from the vines.  The vendemmia is good this year.  Plump luscious grapes yielded 22˚.  A generous jug of the sweet juice was placed on the lunch table.  With hands sticky from the grapes in the shade of the Mulberry tree we ate truffled pasta.  Simply September in Umbria.

Intensely red burns the wood in our oven during our ‘giro pizza’ evenings.  The oven is fired up to 430˚c and pizzas take a mere couple of minutes to cook.  Guys take their hand at making and cooking their own pizzas.  It is not as easy as Matteo makes it look!   As the fire subsides at the end of the evening I bake bread.  Surely there can be little better bread than organic sourdough baked in a an ancient wood fired oven.  It takes a lot of turning and checking, and as I pull the baked loaves out of the oven I put in the beans.  As in the past the heat of the oven is used for many purposes.  I have discovered the trick with Cannellini beans in a bottle.  This Tuscan recipe, which incidentally nobody here in Umbria seems to have heard of is simplicity itself;

  • Soak 500g of dried cannellini beans then boil them for 45 minutes in salted water.
  • Throw a large pinch of rock salt into a sterilised jar.
  • Add two plump cloves of garlic.
  • Two sprigs of rosemary and two bay leaves fresh picked from the garden.
  • Fill to 1/4 height of the beans with Bellaugello extra cold pressed virgin olive oil.
  • Sit the lid on the jar (do not screw it down tightly) and place overnight in the oven.

As the fire cools the beans slowly cook and absorb the flavour of the oil and herbs and seasoning.  Ten to twelve hours should do the trick.  At Bellaugello Gay Guest House we serve them as an aperitivo or snack to accompany a glass of local Sagrantino that best of Umbrian wines.  They will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.  Simply September at it’s best.

Simply back by popular demand is our breakfast cake.  At Bellaugello Gay Guest House it seems September brought out the sauciest of cakes and deserts.  This time chocolate with gold glitter.

and for a desert rich soft Swedish chocolate cake with a pink sparkle dusting…

Simply September being a bit naughty 😉

And for those of you who follow my blog and were upset at not having seen my cock and reading that indeed I had lost my cock, I have good news;  Recently holidaying in Sitges two Bellaugello guests spotted my cock  or at least wrote “We have a large cock in hand (So to speak)” and they are having it returned to me at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  I am so looking forward to be reunited with my cock.  Photos to follow upon receipt.  Simply splendid September 🙂

By any standard five o’clock in the morning is a rude hour to have to climb out of bed, but that was the hour that the other morning my alarm went off and I had to rise.  Stumbling into the bathroom and turning the shower onto full power I sleepily wandered what I was doing, and if this was yet another mad idea.  As the hot water pierced my body I slowly awakened and felt invigorated.  I so love a good shower.  As my guests here know all the bathrooms at Bellaugello are large and there are no shower cabinets, just open wet-room style bathrooms and outdoor showers.  I am allergic to shower cabinets and shower curtains.  Indeed the very thought of a shower curtain sends shivers down my spine.

GPS set, I jumped into my car and with two guests following in theirs headed towards Bevagna, one of my favourite towns in Umbria.  The drive south westwards was magical, a red sunrise vivid over the hills to the east, and a very light mist in the Tiber valley.  Stopping enroute at a little bar for my obligatory coffee macchiato and cornetto, the three of us felt excited.  Or at least two of us did, for the third in our party had no idea where we were heading or why it entailed such an early start.  In less and fifty minutes we had reached Cantina Dionigi, our destination, and all was revealed and the third member of our party discovered the great gift from his husband!

We were to be flying in the largest hot air balloon in Italy, and it was already in mid erection.

Piloted by a very hospitable, enthusiastic and highly qualified pilot who goes by the name of Peter, the balloon holds sixteen passengers.  Peter gave us a safety briefing, including a practice at the landing squat position, tough on the thigh muscles…  As the balloon continued to inflate and became vertical it was time for us all to clamber aboard.  The basket is divided into five compartments, four in the corners each holding four passengers, and a central compartment with the pilot and the gas tanks.  A burst of the burners and soon we were up up and away…

If you look closely at the photo you can see me madly taking photographs hanging out of the left hand corner of the basket.  The weather was perfect, a very light breeze, enough to gently move the balloon along at if I remember correctly about 20km an hour, but not enough to blow away the wispy mist in the valleys below.  As we brushed the tops of some young olive trees, (no photo because I was too slow) Captain Peter explained his planned flight and destination both to us and the airport at nearby Perugia.  Safety was always coming first.

Stupidly I had thought being early morning and up in the sky, it would be cold, but it was not.  The heat from the burners was intense, and as the sun continued to rise the flight became ever more magical.

We flew silently over medieval villages and hamlets, past olive groves and up along wooded hillsides.   The balloon cast a heart shaped shadow on the wheat fields.   The views were huge, to Lago Trasimeno in the west, to the Apennines and Assisi, and south beyond Todi.  But as in the film ‘Chocolat’ the wind blew from the east and took us over the river Tiber to the ceramics town of Deruta.

The town not only straddles the river Tiber but also the E45 the main highway up from Rome.  Now there were some beautiful fields, but many were sown with crops and Peter did not want to incur the wrath of the local farmers, so he kept the balloon at a height to fly past the fields, over the river – to keep us dry he maintained, and also away from the houses.  Eventually we started to descend and it seemed as if he had chosen for our landing spot the local sewage works…  We were all aghast, pilot included, and thankfully he thought better of landing in the cess pit, so to our slight relief identified a seemingly tiny plot of abandoned grassland adjacent to a light industrial building and landed the balloon on the outskirts of the town.  All of us passengers were amazed at the precision of the landing.  We passed just a few metres over the corner of a building, and took our brace positions as the basket came to earth gently in the long grass.  It was not only soft, quick and a quiet landing, but the space chosen was hardly larger than the 60 metres required to allow the fabric balloon to fall gently to earth, truly astonishing.

The ground crew were waiting and together with us hunky guys the basket and now bagged fabric were loaded onto their trailer.  We passengers boarded two smart mini-buses for the twenty minute drive back to Cantina Dionigi where Roberto the owner and pilot Peter’s neighbour was waiting in his chic stylish hospitality suite to meet us with a hearty Umbrian breakfast and a tasting of his fabulous wines.

This was my first time in a hot air balloon, and days later as I write this blog post I am still blown away by the flight.  It was truly awesome.  As you can see from my photo as I look up at the balloon I am about to board…

I loved it (thanks J.A. for the photo).  Jane who organises the flights is charming and attentive and as with all the crew speaks great English. Peter the pilot, is witty and reassuringly professional.  The concept of finishing with a breakfast and wine tasting, with the chance of buying some souvenirs (wine) from the convivial Roberto is a great one and made it all a morning that I heartily recommend to any of our Bellaugello guests.

After the flight my guys headed off to explore the nearby wine towns of Montefalco and Bevagna, stopping for lunch at the Bottega di Assù. Thus by mid afternoon they were back poolside at Bellaugello Gay Guest House enraptured by their flight.  Be it a gift to your husband, simply a romantic gesture, or a place to propose to your boyfriend, a balloon is cool way to fly (even if my head got a wee bit hot!)

Now booking for flights until October.

Umbria is a very beautiful region in central Italy.  Bordered in the east by the majestic Apennines and to the west filled with the vast expanse of Lago Trasimeno there is a huge variety of delicious countryside to enjoy.  Drive along quiet roads and discover a sleepy village, or iconically beautiful hilltop town.  There inevitably will be a decent osteria or trattoria for lunch, and of course a bottle of  great Umbrian wine to put you into fully relax mode.

I have driven many roads in the region, each one a real delight.  Be it between fields of tall sunflowers, or in shady woodland or high over a hill, the variety is immense and so, so Italian.  I have also had the good fortune to experience Umbria from the air as I fly a microlite.   I dart over hill and vale in what seems an impossibly small machine, but one that gives me such an adrenaline rush.

At Bellaugello Gay Guest House we have teamed up with Cantina Dionigi.  Starting in mid May we are able to offer guests the opportunity to fly over Umbria in something a bit larger than a microlite; a hot air balloon or Mongolfiera.

Taking off early morning from near the beautiful town of Bevagna, in your hot air balloon adventure over Umbria Captain Peter will fly you over the town of Assisi and surrounding countryside.  With 26 years experience as a pilot Peter is one of the most qualified pilots in hot air ballooning.  It is a very different way to see the countryside. Ideal for that special gift for your husband or loved one.

Your flight will last approximately one hour and be a breathtaking experience.

On landing you will be taken to Cantina Dionigi for a good breakfast and a wine tasting.  I say an excellent start to any day of an Italian holiday.

Flights in the hot air balloon adventure over Umbria cost €180 per person including the breakfast and wine tasting.  You can add the flight option during the online booking process.  Or, if you have already booked your stay at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, drop me an email and I will happily make the reservation for you.  All flights are obviously subject to decent weather, and an early (very early) start is required.

Friday morning brought a bit of sun and our first guests of the season.   It had been a frenetic few weeks at Bellaugello Gay Guest House getting everything ready and preparing for the arrival of the first guys.  I am always amazed that no matter how much I fill my days throughout the winter there is ever a seemingly endless list of small jobs that still require attention right up to the last minute.

Mauro is back, (yippee!) he will be here once again for the season and together we welcomed guests and friends and on Friday evening headed into Gubbio for the “Processione di Cristo Morto” which I have described in previous posts.

On our way in to town the skies opened and torrential rain fell and bounced off the streets.  We divedd into an enoteca and squashed around a tiny table and downed a couple of glasses of prosecco and enjoyed an aperitivo of prosciutto and pecorino, whilst waiting for the rain to subside.

The crowds began to accumulate so we headed out to grab our vantage point at the corner of Piazza Bosone and whilst struggling with umbrellas attempted to capture the event.

I am a creature of habit and we headed to Ristorante dei Consoli for dinner as ever served by the welcoming Francesca.  I like this restaurant as it is on the route of the procession and midway through dinner we were able to see the celebrants still processing in the historic centre.

By Sunday the rain had turned to intermittent hail, but keeping with tradition some of us headed over to a neighbouring organic farm where we have an invitation to join them for Easter Lunch and Egg rolling.  Now I never remember the rules of the egg rolling.  It does not matter how many times and in what languages they are explained to me I simply do not remember if I should aim to break my egg or aim to roll it intact.  Two results, one means that someone in your family will get pregnant, the other that things will stay the same.  Needless to say although I lobbed my egg gently it smashed to smithereens.  I think that means no babies for me, hooray!  Lunch was exquisite and by the time puddings were brought out we were able to enjoy them in the sunshine in the wonderful courtyard at Pratale.

Replete we headed back to Bellaugello Gay Guest House, time for the guys to relax.  For Mauro and me to light the sauna, arrange massages and for me to jump into the kitchen to prepare for dinners. More guests were due to arrive late afternoon.  I planned a light supper which grew into something rather larger.  Alessandro another friend and my yoga master had brought Arancini with him from Rome, Mauro had brought up the most dreamily creamy delicious burrata from Puglia, and my great friend Otto spoilt us all with a superb Passito from Pantelleria;

At midnight we opened Prosecco to celebrate Roberto, another guest’s Birthday, it was a great international party.

I am often asked when the pool at Bellaugello Gay Guest House opens for the season, and how warm it is at various times of the year.  I hate being asked questions about the weather.  These days as we all know the weather is so totally unpredictable, seasons seem to want to be a mix of every other season.  We are all becoming weather obsessed.  When I am in charge of the world one of the first things I will implement will be a ban on cellphone weather apps.  They are always wrong, constantly changing their predictions, everyone is fixated on them, and their lives revolve around the mis-predicitons, I so despair!  The pool is not officially open yet but it did not stop one brave guest sneaking in and taking a dip….

And just because I like it so much here is a short clip of the “Miserere” sung in Gubbio last Friday:

It’s always hard when waking early, but getting up is not a problem especially when the day begins warmly and magnificently.  Then to be greeted with an enormous full bloodied sunrise through the window at Bellaugello Gay Guest House I just know the day is off to a good start.  So it was this morning;

The suns rays streamed through the window bathing the bedroom in a golden light.  The shadows cast playing with movement in the room, golden rays bouncing off the mirror and splashing the stone walls.   Sometimes it is good to lie back and enjoy.

In moments like these I occasionally think of the people whose lives have been part of the history of this ancient Umbrian farmhouse.  Were they like me blown away by the energy and beauty, or were some oblivious?  When St Francis of Assisi walked these hills passing Bellaugello on the way to Gubbio surely he and his followers revelled in the beauty, they walked slowly they must have.  I wonder did the soldiers fighting in the last war dug in on both sides of the valley whilst firing shells over the house and hard worked land have time to admire the beauty?  I guess rarely.  Bellaugello is a fixture, it has been a farm for over four hundred years, and parts of the house date way back then.  Through history the house has been home to many families.  I know some members of the last of the ‘Mezzadri’ as happily some including an amazing woman now over ninety still return and share wondrous stories.  Reading between the lines they recount of their lives, they were anything but easy.   Did they have time in their hard lives to pause and be amazed by such sunrises?  I know their work days were ruled by daylight, so I guess they probably did pause and get blown away.  From their return visits and my experience I know the pull of this place is strong.

Now like the times, the use of the house has changed.  We concentrate less on agriculture instead our focus is on welcoming guests from all over the world.  Mind you we do still produce dazzlingly delicious extra virgin olive oil.  Bellaugello is the leading Gay Guest House in Italy.  Where two families once lived there are now five luxury suites for you guys to enjoy.   Here I know guys find a huge level of peace and pleasure, they find time to breathe and enjoy nature.  Bellaugello is an utterly magical spot and many guys capture its beauty in their holiday snaps that they choose to share with me.  You too can come and stay, take your own photos and experience the magic.

Enough of the lyrical melancholy!  I spent yesterday in front of the computer correcting errors on the Bellaugello website.  It seems that the ‘experts’ had made a mess of things on some of the Dutch and Italian pages (for which mijn verontschuldigingen) and having worked hard eventually I discovered how to correct them.  It was a very satisfying day.  I had to write some new copy and took time to add some new Spring Offers to our ‘Deals’ page.  If only I could translate that page into other languages I would be a veritable star!

The amazing sunrises are not the only reason to visit Bellaugello.  Continuing the red theme, Spring in Umbria is a time when there is lots going on not forgetting the stunning “Festa dei Ceri” the Race of the Candles on 15th of May.  The planning for this historic tradition commences on 16th of May each year.  At large autumnal dinners the teams, each named after saints there are three,  start to choose their ‘Capodieci’ or captain who responsible for the strategy for his saint’s team.  Wearing golden yellow shirts is the team of S Ubaldo the patron saint of Gubbio.  The merchants follow S Giorgio and wear blue shirts, and the farmers and countryfolk support S Antonio, their shirts are black.  Each team has white pants and a red bandanna.

Early on 15th of May the teams assemble and head to the Piazza Grande, the large open space standing on huge arches half way up the hill in the ancient town centre.  The ceremony really gets underway when to the sound of trumpeters the Ceri are carried out of the town hall and fixed to their supports and then raised.  Each wooden ‘candle’ weighs 300kg and is carried in relays by team members round the historic centre.  After a long lunch – this is Italy after all, the race proper up the hill to the basilica begins.  S Ubaldo is always first, after all he is the patron saint, the distance between the three ‘ceri’ is the important element.  The town is full to capacity, the atmosphere electric, and we at Bellaugello are mere spectators, but what a spectacle!  Here, soak up the atmosphere, watch a clip for yourselves…

To help you guys come and enjoy a spring break at Bellaugello Gay Guest House I have reduced the price of two of our suites.  Special Offer prices for a suite throughout April and May now start at €155,00 for double occupancy and our delicious daily breakfast.   In addition we have a four night mid week break also applicable in October  Simply book four nights arrival Sunday or Monday, pay for three and we will give you the fourth night for free..   For further details and to book your spring break click here you will be taken to the page of our website.  Or simply book your room now: click here you will be redirected to our online booking service.

As if that isn’t enough, as I seem to be writing this post backwards I finish with a photograph of the equally impressive red sunset over the farm at Bellaugello Gay Guest House last night:

It is not every morning before dawn that I stumble out of bed at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, manage to find my iPhone and set it at the window to record.  However this morning was one of those rare occasions, and I just have to share the result with you.

Clumsily, sleepily I balanced my phone precariously on a pile of books and set the ‘slo-mo’ record and via the bathroom went back to bed.  About one hour later I awoke in my now light bedroom and went over to check the phone.  I switched the camera off and replayed the video.

Sunrises can be amazing here, often red, often misty, magical, and special.  A couple of years ago one guest at our gay guest house caught on video the mist below in the Chiascio valley.  Unbeknownst to me it was visibly running downstream with course of the river.  I had imagined the movement of mist was vertical, but no it is more complicated.  I have often thought to try to recapture that stunning show, but I love my bed.  This morning the sunrise was no less magnificent.  The orange sky grows, and to my entertainment it seems like the clouds are jumping a race over the peaks of the Apennines like new born lambs gambolling on a bale of hay or a small hillock.

I just love the clouds reflected in the infinity pool and the mist cuddling the hills.  Umbria is a truly magical place.  The region is central in Italy, between Lazio, Toscana and Le Marche.   If you can tear yourself away from the many beauties of Umbria you will discover that Bellaugello is a perfect base for day trips to Rome, Florence, Siena and Rimini to name but a few.

Here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House you find a special peace and harmony.   Our aim is to indulge you and at the end of your stay to return you to your daily life refreshed and invigorated.  Bellaugello offers a holiday escape away from the worries of daily life, and who doesn’t need that?