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:

Woken this morning by the sun pouring through my bedroom window, I stumble to my feet and head to the bathroom to throw water on my face.

Check the day, out of my bedroom window the rosemary is in full bloom, spikes of purply pinky blue busy with bees already gathering nectar, the sun hazy after the brief rains of yesterday, the air decidedly cooler and fresher.  Into the kitchen, flick the kettle on, it will be tea today, tea from my dwindling supply of strong British teabags,  home-made soda bread and home-made orange marmalade that featured in my blog a few posts ago, fire up the laptop, and notice an email informing me of a comment on a recent blog post.

This comment is from a couple of guys who had the courage to stay at Bellaugello in the very early days, when all around was by no means finished.  I remember them well, they helped me with not only moral support, but also I seem to remember a paintbrush being taken up with enthusiasm, their stay is very much an integral part of my Bellaugello voyage.  To show you how brave they and many others were, the pic below is the same view but I am sure a more familiar memory to these guys and many others in those early days.

I am so warmed by the kind affection and interest in Bellaugello I receive from so many readers who keep in contact, and dip into my blog.  It may be years of silence, but then, ‘ping’ an arriving email brings back memories of a stay and I journey back to that time and reflect on all the changes since my arrival in Italy.

One of the things that has not changed in recorded time is the annual ‘Festa dei Ceri’ or race of the candles held each 15th of May in our local town of Gubbio.  With its beginning in pre-christian times, history now records it to have origins as a fertility festival later adopted by the catholic church, and little changed through the centuries, including during the last war, when much depleted in number it still took place.   Three saints atop three large wooden structures held shoulder high by teams of strong guys and run round the medieval city, before an evening race up the hill and into the basilica where the ‘candles’ remain until the next year.

This most important day in the calendar of the Eugubini sees the town and surrounding district thronged with guys dressed in white trousers and coloured shirts, yellow for S Ubaldo the patron saint of the city, Blue for S Giorgio, the saint of the tradesmen and city dwellers and black, for S Antonio, the saint of the country dwellers and farmers, all sport a red neckerchief, and all take the ceremony very seriously.

Lots of wine flows, there is music in the piazzas, dancing and the town is bursting with adrenaline, but above all it feels safe.  I am not a fan of crowds, maybe that is why I choose to live in the glorious countryside in rural Umbria, but the day of the Ceri is somewhat magical, and the enthusiasm of the participants flows seamlessly to us spectators, and despite the huge numbers I never feel to be in danger, a truly rare and valuable sensation in today’s world bedlam.

It is an incredible sight to behold.  Unlike the Palio di Siena or the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, the Festa dei Ceri is still run for the people of Gubbio (Eugubini) and whilst they warmly welcome outsiders, the city does not think to promote this amazing event.  So guys I have given you a taste, go see your boss, request time off work and book with us at Bellaugello Gay Guest House and come witness this very special event.

Click here to go directly to our online booking

Easter, such fun and super great guests, I had a blast here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  Guests from Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy made the weekend very international.  The weather was kind, warm sunshine, indeed another lunch outside in the sun drenched courtyard of Pratale.  This year I have decided to make our breakfasts even bigger, and the Easter table was groaning with delicious sweet Colomba, cheesy Crescia di pasqua, strawberries, (which reminds me I must start making strawberry jam) chocolates and home made breads and of course our Bellaugello home-made preserves.

#Bellaugello #Agriturismo homemade orange and whisky Marmelade #gay

But to gay things…  Unbeknownst to me yesterday three brave guests stripped off and ventured into our infinity pool, and so begin the 2016 series of “Bellaugello Backs”

#Bellaugello gay guest house, Umbria Italy, the infinity pool 2016

The first swim of the 2016 season at Bellaugello Gay Guest House

#Gay guest house Bellaugello Agriturismo, Umbria, Italia la piscina

la piscina al sfioro Bellaugello Gay Agriturismo, Umbria, Italia

I have no idea how warm the water was – not very I hazard and the pool is not officially open but they swam a couple of lengths and I must admit I am really impressed by these guys.

If you have a Bellaugello pool photo that you would like posted on my ‘Bellaugello Backs’ series, do send it over: info@bellaugello.com will reach me, backs or fronts, it doesn’t matter, the series is going wild this year!

Last night I was invited out for dinner.  A table was booked at my current favourite restaurant in our local town of Gubbio, the “Officina dei Sapori” and off we set.  Being driven for me is a real treat, and going out in the company of two great guys even better.  We sat at a delightful corner table, full view of the super shiny new kitchen, and dined off the creative winter menu.  The food was awesome, service slick and attentive, and for a Monday the restaurant surprisingly busy.

Returning to Bellaugello Gay Guest House for a nightcap we sat outside on the terrace by candlelight.  So still was the night, stars, not a breath of wind, only owl hoots and in the distance the burbling river Chiascio way below in the valley, otherwise utter silence.  It is at times like these that I am reminded of just how magical, peaceful and utterly beautiful it is here at Bellaugello, and how fortunate I am to be able to share it with so many great guys from all over the world.

This morning we all woke up to a guest house draped in cloud, silent, intimate and slightly magical.  Slowly the cloud lifted, and the magnificence of the view from Bellaugello Gay Guest House is now revealed.

Mist seen fromthe terrace at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Umbria, Italythe village of Colpalombo surrounded by early morning mist seen from the terrace of Bellaugello Gay Hotel in ItalyReflections on the infinity pool @Bellaugello Gay Vacation Hotel near Tuscany, Italy

The sun is shining, it is decidedly autumnal, but a beautiful crisp clear day.

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.