The past several days of glorious weather got me back into the garden here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House. The garden is huge, it seems as if every year it physically grows, by that I do not mean the plants but the actual garden itself, it is as if a metre stretches itself, thus increasing the workload. However days spent in the garden are for me pleasurable.
Blowing spring leaves from under the huge fig tree the first primroses and violets are already in bloom. Cheeky wee violets show timidly from their deep verdant foliage, yellow primroses stand proud and erect, trees are beginning to show bud and the fruit trees the first signs of blooms, all heralding the onset of spring. Days are getting longer and time before we open on 8th April is getting shorter. I discover I am not the only one working in the garden, there has been an istrice or porcupine busy. These devils devour all tubers and bulbs. Two years ago they ate all the potatoes, this spring they have demolished what was left of my irises, several daffodils and my prized alliums that were looking promising.
Up on the roadside until I manage to burst the tyre I barrowed loads and loads of leaves uphill, burning the dry ones and tipping the soggy ones over the greppo. A real satisfaction to see the entrance roadway at least half cleared, and the smouldering leaves taking me back to childhood working in the garden with dad.
Even at this time of year the variety of colours never ceases to amaze me. Rosemary is flowering, pinks and purples, bees buzz busily already seeking nectar, energetic song birds gaily coloured flit from branch to branch checking out possible nesting sights, my lawns are growing in clumps of varying shades of green through yellow, there is a myriad of colours all around, which took me to thinking about other places full of colours and my mind came to rest on the “Festa dei Ceri” the race of the candles run every 15 May in our local town of Gubbio. This event traces its roots back to pre-christianity a fertility festival, and is the reason our city still exists. Nothing in Gubbio comes before the Ceri.
Early in the morning there is a buzz in the town, like wasps to a honeypot the streets are filled with people in white pants all heading towards the centro storico. Some wear yellow shirts, some blue, some black, all adorned with red sashes and neckerchiefs, they are the participants and team supporters. Others are dressed ‘normally’ the spectators and tourists. Cramming into the Piazza Grande that magnificent space half way up the town, the tension rises as the ceremony commences. The Sbanditore or flag throwers arrive, dignitaries, men on horses, trumpeters, all resplendent in traditional costumes, and then the Ceri themselves it is a veritable orgasm of colour and tradition. The crowd in fever pitch, supporters and ceraioli the guys who will actually carry the three ceri await the appearance of the ceri; San Ubaldo the patron saint of the city, San Giorgio, the saint of the merchants and city dwellers, and ours San Antonio the patron saint of the farmers and country-dwellers, are carried horizontally (and at a run) out of the maginificent Palazzo dei Consoli, the appropriate saints are attached to the ceri and with a blessing from the bishop and baptism with a ceramic pitcher of wine, the ceri are erected to the vertical and the run around the town really begins. It is amazing to witness. Here is a wee video that I shot last year of the actual ‘alzata’.
The ceraioli pause for a huge lunch before in the early evening starting all over again and the race begins. Relay teams carrying the three ceri literally run through the town before racing up through the top city gate and up to the basilica of Saint Ubaldo on the top of the hill behind the town. Hot sweaty work, muscles bulging, determination on faces, it is a serious event which you really should witness at least one time in you life, and Bellaugello Gay Guest House is the place to stay.