Hot sunny June days at the moment seem endless and effortless.  During the days the guys have been enjoying lazing by the pool, and in the evenings we have held some delightful dinners on the terrace, the now fragrant lavender ablaze with fireflies flitting too and fro, it is a magical time here in Umbria.

Infinity Pool in Umbria

Table with glasses and a bottle of italian wine

Of course we are busy watering the garden, I have this aim to keep lawns green.  Whilst the lawns might not be of Wimbledon tennis standard, we do our best to keep them from burning, which in 32˚c heat and no rain to speak of for many months is an ever increasing challenge.  The garden is bountiful, ablaze with colours and fragrances, this year it seems to have matured. Whilst apricots are beginning to turn golden hues, on the lower terrace our vegetable garden has also begun to yield delicious produce.  We have already begun to harvest salad leaves, zucchini and cucumbers which find their way into the kitchen to be magically transformed by Isabella into delicious dishes, last night we dined on chilled gazpacho and the slow roast loin of pork was accompanied by stuffed zucchini.

It was an occasion for a celebration, one of our guests celebrating his birthday, and a specially commissioned chocolate cake was made, and delicately decorated with petals from David Austin roses hand picked from our cook’s own garden.

Rose taste cake

Earlier in the week a couple of guys on a long holiday in Europe celebrated an anniversary with a private candlelit dinner on a terrace deep in the garden.  An antipasto sharing plate, to start, hand cut gnocchi with truffles sourced here in the valley and at their request a roast of local lamb, washed down with a great Sagrantino di Montefalco from the cantina of Adanti.  They told me the evening was the highlight of their European trip.  It is so rewarding for the team to hear that we are doing the right thing.

This week we have laughed to “Hyancith Bucket” and ” ‘Allo ‘Allo” stories, and I have had a lesson in digitizing maps.  It seems that my hand drawn map of walks through the valley (a copy of which I am told resides in the MoMo) risks being superseded by a digital version downloadable to a smartphone.  Whilst I like the convenience of a digital map – I have suggested long ago to our local tourist office in Gubbio that they cease production of their paper town plans and invest in a digital version that we operators can send out together with booking confirmations, (still no response) I find myself flattered when guys still ask for my hand-drawn copy, but I do ask myself for how much longer will I be photocopying?

We have received our new range of bathroom products specially made for Bellaugello by Domenico and Luciano.  They source Argan oil in Morocco which is hand extracted and then here in Umbria transformed into soaps, shampoo and shower gels which we have in the suites.  I am so delighted to be finally offering a good high quality organic product made here in Umbria.

Trendy black soap, Simplement, Savon

Bellaugello set of argan soaps

With the pool water at 30˚c it is just too tempting to rise off the sunbed and splash in the pool and cool off.  This week we have a large number of returning guests in the house.  They met here on various holidays and have become friends and last year booked to return this week to spend time together on holiday.  It is so very rewarding to welcome back so many ‘regulars’ and to catch up with their news, and give them a place to refresh and relax and have fun, to forget the daily grind.

Two guys in the pool at Bellaugello

I have to round this post off by mentioning two guys who flew in all the way from Chicago specifically to spend a few nights at Bellaugello.  They have been here before but just felt the urge to return, thanks guys, it was great to see you again.

Two guys drinking italian wine

Recently completed a fresh look for our ever popular Diva Suite.  This 53sqm suite has the delight of having windows on three sides, so giving huge views.  Decorated in a modern style with clean uncluttered lines, live a few days like a diva, it is perfect for your romantic honeymoon.

Entering from the garden terrace through your own private covered portico, the perfect place for an aperitivo or just watching the world float by, you find yourself in the large living room.  Black ceramic floor tiles and lots of white paint, a kitchen corner, ideal for preparing a light lunch or supper.  Head through the next door and you find yourself in the bedroom, you are now at third floor level.  The 1.80m wide bed is super comfortable and now restyled with led lighting in the feature headboard.

Diva Suite Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Umbria ItalyBose Soundlink, Bellaugello Gay Guset House, Umbria, Italy

After a great night’s sleep roll over, to one side a commanding view over the Chiascio valley, to the other flick the switch on your smartphone and listen to your music on the “Bose Soundlink” while your partner makes that first cup of expresso with the “Italcaffé” machine in the kitchen.  Wander together into the bathroom, large, spacious and with your man enjoy a shower, no shower cabinet, just space and simplicity.

sheer indulgent hedonism…

 

Blistering sunshine though Umbrian summer, temperatures at one point reaching 40˚c and little rain meant that the olives soaked up the heat and matured early.  Usually here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House we begin to harvest these little black jewels mid-November, but this year we started earlier.

With nets placed on the ground to catch the falling olives, up high into the trees we climbed, sometimes with ladders, sometimes by scrambling up the trunk and into the laden boughs and gently stroked the ripe fruit from the branches.

Ladders at the ready, la raccolta #Bellaugello

Once all the branches have been picked, and the olives are in the nets they are put into crates and because one requires a certain quantity to take to the mill, the olives are spread on a cool floor to await the next stage of the process.

from tree to crate olives @Bellaugello

This year as always I picked with neighbours, them coming over to help with the Bellaugello olives and me going over to help with theirs.  Whilst I bring my olives back to Bellaugello in crates each containing 30kgs with my trusty Ape my neighbours use a rather more traditional method, large saddlebags made of sacking and the services of one of their trusty and willing donkeys.  This year we picked in glorious sunshine, a bit of shadow was much appreciated!

off to the farmhouse with the olives

Finally the big day, off to the frantoio or mill.  We take our olives to a mill in our local town of Gubbio, the last remaining mill here where the olives are pressed by stone.  After being put into a large green crate the olives are tipped into the washing machine which blows away any remaining bits of twig or leaves, rinses the olives and prepares them for lifting into the grind mill.

Crated olives ready for the process to beginand so the milling process beginsThere are always lots of farmers at the mill

And so the olives are carried up and away through the wash to the grind stones

washed and ready for the grind stones #olives

They are huge hunks of granite that revolve in a massive bowl turning the black olives into a pink paste

millstone #frantoiorossi millstone #Bellaugello milling olives #frantoiogubbio

which then goes through a further grinder like an artesian screw making a smooth paste which is then spread on the mats which will be pressed;

press mats waitingpressing olivesapplying the olive pastepasting of the mat complete

it is the oldest most traditional system, but has come up to date with mechanical and computer aid to spin the mats and transfer them to the press, from which whilst waiting for the stack to be complete, the oil magically begins to drip out glistening in the afternoon sun;

press mats glistening in the afternoon sun #Gubbio #Bellaugello

When the pole is full to a height of almost two metres it is wheeled over to the press.

the stack of olive mats ready for the pressand into the press the olives go #Bellaugello

The liquid – it is water, oil and bits and bobs starts to trickle out of the mats into the tank below.  The trick of the guys at the frantoio is to know exactly just how much paste to spread on each mat so it does not all squirt out of the sides of the press.  At first no pressure is used, but after about one hour the hydraulics are turned on and pressure rises, all cold, no heat…

the pressure's on #frantoio #Bellaugello

and the last drips of oil glide slowly and sensuously down to the tray below

the last precious drops #oliveoil

and so to the centrifuge, this mill uses only one to extract the oil from the water and other impurities, and soon it flows… luscious, thick, viscous, intense, fragrant, pungent, spicy, divine, wonderful…

2015 #BEllaugello virgin cold presed Umbrian olive oilthick, viscous #Bellaugello #OliveOil2015

and thus we are done, all that remained was to weigh the tins

Tins on the weighscale at the frantoio

and head home, loaf of unsalted Umbrian bread in hand, light the fire, uncork a bottle of rough red wine (actually it was a smooth luscious Critèra from the cantina of Schola Sarmenti that I adore deep down in Puglia) and eat bruschetta with our own 2015 cold pressed extra virgin organic olive oil….. delicious! there is nothing quite like it! and still we are picking……

Yesterday the telephone rang, strangely enough both Michael and myself picked it up simultaneously, but I left him to take the call which went something like this:

Caller – Good afternoon is your restaurant open to non-residents, can I come to dinner?

Michael – Well yes…. and before Michael had time to give further details or find out more the line broke.

Two hours later a guy rolls up here at Bellaugello Gay Country House, and enquires as to dinner and possible accommodation.  Being busy in the kitchen I asked Michael to show the guy around, we had one suite vacant last night so we would have been delighted to let it.  The tour proceeds in blazing sunshine, during which time the guy asks if guests ‘make out with each other’ and also if ‘you the owners make out with the guests’  Ok maybe reasonable questions but to me a bit on the edge of decency.  The said guy then asks if he can spend the afternoon poolside, stay for dinner and then decide whether or not he will take the vacant suite…. oh really!

Ho Hum!  Me thinks not.  Firstly I believe that guys staying here are entitled to exclusivity, they have paid a reasonable amount and for that deserve privacy, pampering and peace, so I make a policy of not allowing day visitors.  Secondly, it was all too apparent what this particular guy was after and that is not a service we provide here at Bellaugello, I am not a pimp (and yes, I have been asked on more than one occasion to be one)…  So not being able to go poolside the guy got into his car and presumably went back to his hotel in wherever it was, Assisi I believe, however before doing so, his parting shot to Michael was, that he “would like to have fun with a guy like him”

Early evening the phone rings again, as agreed Michael picks up;

C – Good evening, listen I was just wondering if you and Alec fancy a threesome with me…

M -(profoundly shocked and at the same time trying not to laugh) no, goodbye

Of course several of the guests had witnessed and heard some of the earlier conversation that took place during the tour, and quite naturally wanted to know the gory details.  Oh how we all chuckled at dinner last night which we enjoyed on the terrace, a soft balmy breeze wafting the fireflies in the heady lavender, still warm home-made crescia filled with local prosciutto, breast of chicken stuffed with pesto and mozzarella and scrumptious aubergines, breaded and deep fried garnished with the sweetest of tomatoes straight up from Sicily, mezzalune filled with spinach and peccorino, and a smooth dark chocolate mousse, my how well one eats in Italy.

Recently I posted on Bellaugello’s Instagram account a photo taken whilst walking with the dogs through one of our fields where we had just cut the hay;

Bambi hiding by a hay bale #Bellaugello

The dogs did not see the bambi, it was left undisturbed to play another day and as we walked on through the field full of hay bales, I thought it a great place for hide and seek

That's the hay cut and baled for another year at Bellaugello A few days later when on our walk in another hay field, yes I like hay fields, I was suddenly startled, I just could not believe my eyes, there was again something nestling under a hay bale, could it be another bambi….  I had to get closer to inspect

a big bambi #Bellaugello  Ha! A truly great crop this year! E & P enjoying the rural country life at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Italy

Thanks to E & P for their amazing sense of fun and photos

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