As promised in my last post a selection of photos from our New Year’s Eve / Capodanno Houseparty here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria, Italy.

Following our cenone, Marco turned up the music and all danced until midnight, when the New Year was brought in with a Prosecco toast. Brunch on 1st. January was taken in the sunshine  on the terrace!

With many thanks to Paolo and Fabio for the great photographs


I have spent the past three days working at the computer.  Outside it has been sunny, cloudless blue skies, crisp but cold.  Recently first thing in the mornings there has been a slight coating of ice on the swimming pool, and parts of the garden where the sun does not hit remain frosted most of the day, so ideal to be snug indoors, working at the computer and gazing out over the stupendous view.

Among other work things I have been collating photographs and writing captions for the Bellaugello Gay Guest House website, I have made several changes, some are professional photos, some taken by myself and some by guests.  It has been an enjoyable if exhausting work, the photos have now gone off by ‘dropbox’ to my webdesigners who are now making the changes, so guys check the website, the pictures are great!  Here is one I particularly like that will be on the webpage soon, taken last summer, it shows the upper terrace at Bellaugello Gay B&B.

On opening my blog to make this post I discover yet again a lengthy spam list.  Fortunately by the magic of a special programme it is siphoned off to a spam box, from where I can edit and delete.  The vast majority of spam is and for several weeks has been for Ugg boots and Northface jackets, you would think that the spammers would know I am not an Ugg boot man, please spammers give me a rest! – however guys I love to receive comments on my posts, they do not hit my spam box, do not stop them….

I did escape to Perugia this afternoon, part business and part pleasure.  I adore the historic centre of this great city.  Today I noticed that together with Assisi, Perugia is in the running for “European City of Culture 2019”  I wish them all the luck, together the cities are superbly suited for such an accolade.  I took a quick turn round the shops, thought I might pick up a sale bargain or two, but….  I am a simple country lad, I do not understand the concept of shop sales.  In the UK shops buy in ‘tat’ to sell cheaply and sell end of line or last season items at up to 60% off, in Sweden my friends tell me they reduce prices by 70%, but here in Italy they seem to raise the original price by 35% then reduce it in  the ‘sale’ by 20% or 30%. I was aghast to discover in the window of the Timberland shop a pair of  boots on sale at €145.00 reduced from €210.00.  I bought exactly the same boot last spring for €120.00…..  However I did pick up a pair of cozily warm if somewhat unfashionable Crocs (fur-lined) for €25.00 a veritable bargain, so maybe sales are good here in Italy too, you just need to look…

I finally bit the bullet and went to the mobile phone shop and at long last bought myself a new mobile phone.  My iPhone 3 was soooo slooow, it has begun to forget for  which purpose it was designed, it ceased to recognise any network and hated sending sms s and as to be more irritating many of the few apps I have installed crashed, guess it is built in obsolescence!  At the same very helpful store I also picked up a new cell number and now have a dedicated mobile telephone number for Bellaugello, much needed for our Italian clients who prefer calling on the mobile, it will be live soon.

Talking of which, thanks are due to both Fabio and Paolo, who have kindly sent photos of our recent Capodanno Houseparty, I will add some of them to my next post.

And lastly, great news!  Last night I had a lengthy telephone call and can confirm that in June this summer a young guy, Thomas is coming over for the summer season to help give a hand here at Bellaugello Gay resort.  Thomas visited Bellaugello some years ago when it was still in the making, and is keen to see the finished product and to be part of the team ensuring our guests’ stays are more comfortable. I will post more about Thomas at a later date, in the meantime I am off to read the new mobile phone manual!

I hate them, for many reasons I utterly detest  them and so it is time for a rant about ‘energy saving lightbulbs’.  Now don’t get me wrong this is not a rant about me resenting change or not wishing to keep up with modern technology as anyone who has been to Bellaugello Gay Guest House will know for they will have seen my wonderful ‘aliens’ the LED pavement lights around our infinity swimming pool, no it is a rant about those detestable ‘low energy’ thingies.

Today I had to change four of them because they had died, did not light, were useless, not fit for purpose.  The packet clearly states “lasts ten years” – I now ask myself is that the packaging or the lightbulb only if not lit or used, for they certainly do not last ten years nor anything like when lit, I have not been in Italy ten years, they were not invented ten years ago and yet they die.

Please can somebody tell me how they have the gall to call themselves energy saving?

Firstly, I look at an incandescent lightbulb, to me a thing of simple beauty, a design classic, a thin clear glass globe fixed into a metal cap and inside an inert gas and fine wire filament that glows.  Now an “energy saving lightbulb” is a complicated thing, coming in twists, coils or wonky pasta like shapes, coated in …is it phosphorescence or some such chemical, filled with a miasma of other horrid poisonous chemicals one of which I am reliably informed is mercury (great!) and the base, well it is no longer a slick piece of metal and glass, it is humungous, plastic, filled with electric circuitry and gizmos.  As if that is not enough now please do not tell me that all the components are sourced from one source and all locally available, they must have travelled the world to such an extent to be inveterate travelers and so make me jealous.  When soon dead they do not go into the recycling waste bins, they have to go into the unrecyclable bin, yet they are ‘energy efficient/friendly’ huh!

Secondly, we are told  that these ‘eco-friendly’ lightbulbs are more efficient as they do not give of any heat.  Well is it me or am I stupid but do we not require to use lightbulbs rather more in the winter when days are shorter, temperatures cooler and the heating is ON? would it not be an idea if lightbulbs continued to help make homes warm and cozy?

Thirdly, Lightbulbs used to be readily available in any self respecting store for about 30cents/pence, ok if you wanted a fancy candle it cost more, but you could buy a lightbulb that was fit for purpose for well under €1 or £1.   Nowadays I have to pay in the region of  €8.00 for a standard ‘energy saving lightbulb’ – now just how is that energy saving, I have to work at least 16 times as hard to earn the cost of the lightbulb, to me that means expending significantly more energy to be able to purchase a lightbulb.


Fourthly, as already stated they do not last, so require more frequent energy un-saving trips to the shops.  I have been in Italy about five years, or just under 44,000 hours.  Considering the house was a ruin when I bought it and devoid of electricity for a year, the maximum any lightbulb could be lit for is 35,000 hours, now I try to be economic with lights, a habit drummed into me as a child by my late father ” why is the boy leaving the light on does he think I have money to burn?”, so by my calculation the bulbs have been lit for less than 1/3rd of the stated life of 33,000 hours and then die.  and of course not all the bulbs went in four years ago, and not every light has been lit.   I am a sad person, I still have lightbulbs from many many years ago, like me they moved from house to house, we have become attached to each other, and like me they still work, they are incandescent – as I have become.  now please don’t even get me started on halogen lightbulbs…….

The 6th. of January in Italy is the feat of Befana, the Epifany and the day when the ugly old woman (I am told she is Santa Claus’s mrs) brings children sweets.  La Befana arrived in Gubbio in the Piazza Grande to a tumultuous applause from the kids and adults alike.  Abseiling from the castellated top of the Palazzo dei Consoli Befana arrived in the midst of a large crowd who had been watching a very athletic group of flag-throwers or Sbandieratori.

La Befana is sponsored by the Vigili del Fuoco, (firemen to you anglophiles!) of Gubbio.

The celebrations mix old and new traditions in the spectacular setting of the medieval town.  Although not technically kids we made a special excursion the short distance from Bellaugello Gay Guest House to witness the occasion, I just love the festive traditions here in Italy, the enthusiasm, the costumes, the music, the colours, and the fact that the traditions are being passed on through the generations.

Afterwards we drove to the top of Monte Ingino, above the town, the views, bathed in January sunshine, were stunning (shame about the guy who got in the photo!)

and then to Bottaccione, one of my favourite restaurants where we feasted on wildly good home-made pasta.

No matter when you come to Umbria there is always something great to see or do.