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!’
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.
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.