As August slides into September I am discovered to be in a reflective mood.  I wake to magical misty mornings.  Early morning, golden sun filters through the trees, birds call to lovers, the dog busily runs under the bushes looking for lizards.   Reluctant to get out of cozy beds, guys  are late down to breakfast on the terrace where they witness the Umbrian countryside slowly and generously reveal itself.

Occasionally, just occasionally, as the sun shimmers on the water, I catch a guy swimming early laps the pool.

It has been an amazing Bellaugello summer.  So many laughs, so much fun, so many new friends, so many new experiences, and simply good times.  Bellaugello allows guys the chance to escape from the hectic whirlwind that is daily life at work and instead enjoy peace and harmony.  Late at night we lie on the lawn and (glass of wine in hand) stare up at the stars in the ‘big sky’.  The night of San Lorenzo was one of an almost full moon so few shooting stars were seen.  The week before, the sky was ablaze with these fiery visitors, hurtling through the inky black sky, some of my guests seeing them for the first time.

This is an unusual week for me as all the guys in the house are first time visitors.  I am delighted to be discovered by new guys, and love sharing my life and home with them.   I have other weeks where the house is filled with guys that have been here many times before.  The variety is exquisite.  Through the summer we have enjoyed many dinners, one or two I have photographed.  GDPR is not only a huge consumer of paper and time but complicates my blogging and social media.  I am always anxious about asking those that put an ‘X’ in the no consent box to get up from their seat, move out of a photo or to ensure that I blur their image.  Is it really worthwhile I ask myself?  Cellphones know exactly where everyone is and exactly what they are up to.

We don’t talk about my vegetable garden, it is, this year, a source of shame.  Carelessness has meant that we fed the wildlife not ourselves, but yesterday I harvested large Zucca flowers which I stuffed with ricotta and anchovies and baked in the oven for an aperitivo at dinner.  I must admit they were really rather delicious.

Oh and I succumbed, and reluctantly allowed flamingoes to visit.  One, made of felt gifted to “Hear” my dog, was summarily ignored by her and now flits from perch to perch around the dining room.  Another adorns one of Mauro’s shirts and a third was spotted in the pool…

Talking of Mauro I managed to snap a pic of him in his massage outfit as he prepared his table on the shady terrace deep in the garden ready for his next client.

One of the visitors I so look forward to welcoming back returned this year.  No visit last year, and I was a bit worried.  But a telephone call and a day was fixed.  Maria was brought up in the house at Bellaugello.  For avid readers of my blog you will have seen her photo and read a bit about her in posts from some years back.  She is now XX years old (dear readers,one must never reveal a lady’s age) and is still as active as ever.  We spent a delightful couple of hours chatting about the farm and our lives.  I learnt about the deep deep snow that used to blanket the valley all winter.  Now thanks to global warming just a distant memory.  This visit she was accompanied by her daughter who was born in the house.  Indeed it was because of the snow and not being able to get out of the house that the family moved to San Casciano in Tuscany where they are still based with a large vineyard producing superb red wine.  I learnt that at the time of her daughter’s birth Maria’s parents lived across the valley in a farm near the village of Colpalombo.  Of course there were no telephones and certainly no cars or free time.  The family agreed that to announce the birth a sheet was to be hung out of the upper floor window at Bellaugello to enable her parents across the valley to know all was well.  On the south elevation of Bellaugello in what is now the Diva Suite there are two windows.  A sheet hung in the left window meant a boy and a sheet in the right window, a girl.  Geniale!

Maria’s visit with her family filled me with delight, she is such a charming fun person.  I sign off this post in a delightfully happy spirit, with my own bit of bottled summer sunshine, my homemade Limoncello:

Waking from the cozyness of my bed, I stumble to the window this January morning, throw on some jogging pants, then head outside to catch on video the view which I just have to share with you.

Back in the kitchen I upload the video to YouTube and get increasingly frustrated with the channel over embedding parameters.  I click the option to prevent showing of suggestions at the end of the video.  In this post I want to show only this one video.  I re-paste the link into my blog, check a preview, and to my annoyance see suggestions for more videos to watch.  Back and forth YouTube, Blog, YouTube click, click, click and still I do not manage to achieve what I desire.  Technology moves at such a pace that as soon as I have learnt the way round an app they change the format.  My ignorance is seemingly never ending.

Moving on and smiling, for as the Moka bubbles, I am sitting at my kitchen window, the aroma of arabica fills the room as the sun weakly warms my workstation.  I love the morning glory mist in the valley.  Often seen under grey skies in winter it is at its very best in spring and fall.  These are the months when mist literally rises and falls under the azure sky.  One wakes early to crisp clear blue sky as Bellaugello sits on a cushion of dense mist as can be seen on our website.  The effect is of flying first above fluffy clouds.  I adore how, like medieval rockets the ancient abbey towers that surround us at Bellaugello Gay Guest House reveal themselves, then sink back into the mist.  Now you see me now you don’t, a natural game of hide and seek.  As the sun warms seemingly euphoric wispy strands of mist rise and disappear, breaking free of the valley bottom, it is utterly magical.  Slowly the mist disperses, by 10:30 it is fully gone.  These are mornings when we dither over serving breakfasts on the terrace.  At 7am the table is still damp and enshrouded in mist.  We have to judge if the guys are early or late breakfasters, for the mornings are so glorious we want to share the glory and magic with our guests.

Set a time lapse on your cell phone and one can see dancing clouds, racing mist and golden sunrises.

Nature is so beautiful, here at Bellaugello one has time, space and peace to fully appreciate it.

Click here to book your stay at Bellaugello and witness the beauty yourself.  I look forward to welcoming you.

It is not every morning before dawn that I stumble out of bed at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, manage to find my iPhone and set it at the window to record.  However this morning was one of those rare occasions, and I just have to share the result with you.

Clumsily, sleepily I balanced my phone precariously on a pile of books and set the ‘slo-mo’ record and via the bathroom went back to bed.  About one hour later I awoke in my now light bedroom and went over to check the phone.  I switched the camera off and replayed the video.

Sunrises can be amazing here, often red, often misty, magical, and special.  A couple of years ago one guest at our gay guest house caught on video the mist below in the Chiascio valley.  Unbeknownst to me it was visibly running downstream with course of the river.  I had imagined the movement of mist was vertical, but no it is more complicated.  I have often thought to try to recapture that stunning show, but I love my bed.  This morning the sunrise was no less magnificent.  The orange sky grows, and to my entertainment it seems like the clouds are jumping a race over the peaks of the Apennines like new born lambs gambolling on a bale of hay or a small hillock.

I just love the clouds reflected in the infinity pool and the mist cuddling the hills.  Umbria is a truly magical place.  The region is central in Italy, between Lazio, Toscana and Le Marche.   If you can tear yourself away from the many beauties of Umbria you will discover that Bellaugello is a perfect base for day trips to Rome, Florence, Siena and Rimini to name but a few.

Here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House you find a special peace and harmony.   Our aim is to indulge you and at the end of your stay to return you to your daily life refreshed and invigorated.  Bellaugello offers a holiday escape away from the worries of daily life, and who doesn’t need that?

Today the sun is shining, it is warm and skies are laced with the wispiest of high alto strato clouds, and I am to be busy in the garden at Bellaugello Gay Guest house.  Despite the cold winter days the garden has been sneakily growing and it needs taming.

The garden at Bellaugello is large, full of plants all bursting into bud and new growth.   The lavender pruned back in the autumn is now requiring a second trim, Rosemary is flowering, I am always in a quandary whether or not to prune now, cutting off the blue flowers seems cruel, or to wait until the growth has gone mad and the plants are untidy.  I have the same indecision with the roses.  Autumn was mild, there were blooms as late as early December, and new growth in the first months of this year.  I hate to prune back when the flowers give such joy in cold gloomy days, and now the buds are in leaf, I am unsure whether it is kind or unkind to the plants to cut them back hard.

I speak to my plants, and they seem to respond well.  The garden was started from zero less than ten years ago and has grown into a place of fragrant beauty and peace.  However the roses do not reply to my question as to when is the best time to prune them.  I research the RHS website, it is a great resource, but I dither wondering if their advice is correct for the climate here in central Italy.  Yesterday I was bold and some of the roses were cut back hard, but others I am unsure of, I don’t want to damage them.

Meanwhile the infinity swimming pool is sparkling.  Cyril the robot has been in overnight and has gobbled up the red sand that seems to land in huge quantities every time the Sirocco blows, bringing up Sahara dust that smudges the water.  The water is still cold, and though it will be some time before I take my first dip I do like to keep the pool well maintained as it gives me pleasure to look out over the crystalline waters.  The pool is treated with salt to make natural chlorine, the system works throughout the year, gentler on your skin and kinder to the environment.  No, the salt level is nothing like that of sea water, it is barely noticeable except it does mean you can swim with your eyes open and when you exit the pool your body does not have that horrible chlorine smell and your skin is not dried out.

Most of the trees shed their leaves in the autumn, and decide to dump them in huge quantities in the pool.  The large oak tree by the house on the way to the pool is still clinging on to its leaves.  Through gales and torrential rain some trees seem to manage to hold on tightly to their leaves, there is no logic.   To me they are the same variety of tree, but obviously not.   The leaves are brown and crisp and I know they will fall into every nook and cranny later this month.  It is as if to say my raking and sweeping up leaves is a task that keeps me fit all year round, we are thinking of you.

Gardening to me is a joy.  I am passionate about it and the south facing site at Bellaugello gay guest house is a superb environment in which to garden.  I have been able to plant a huge variety of plants, and through time have learnt which like full sun and which are thankful for shade.    The one thing I do not have is a damp northerly corner, so no rhubarb and the hydrangeas are not happy, but that is small price to pay in my sun drenched garden.

The house is on four levels, it hangs on the hillside looking over the valley, so we designed terraces on each level to give horizontal spaces.  One enters the bedroom suites directly from the gardens.  Each suite has its own private outdoor space with table and chairs, dining outdoors is such a joy, be it on your private terrace or together with other gay guests at one of our evenings under the stars.  Two of the private terraces have outdoor showers.  What gay man does not want to be caressed by hot water in the world’s largest bathroom, and in this gay guest house you can! sheer bliss!

When planning the garden for my gay guest house I found an empty palette and set about creating spaces and quiet corners.  Hedging in laurel and bay feature, lots of fragrant lavender and rosemary flow onto the paths and attract insects, such a delight to brush past.  Escape to the four poster bed hidden at the far end of the swimming pool, or swing gently in a hammock hung in the dappled share of our majestic fig tree, or doze in a chair under an oak tree, enjoy a relaxing massage, it is all here, and now I must return to work to keep it and myself in trim.

We open Bellaugello Gay Guest House for the 2018 season at the end of March.  Today, sitting at my kitchen window overlooking the grey frozen Umbrian countryside, with the Burian in full force, outdoors is silent, the birds are sheltering from the storm and it hardly seems possible that the weather is soon to change and spring is on its way, but it is.  My view of blown snow is abundant, trees are sheathed in ice, their branches are glistening in the intermittent sharp sunlight.  With the backdrop of the Apennines magically white and deeply blanketed with crunchy with snow it is winter at its finest and a good time to plan a gay holiday spring break away.

By tradition we open our doors a few days before Easter and for good reason, there is a special event I adore and love to share with Bellaugello guests.   The evening of the Friday before Easter in Gubbio, a magical and beautifully preserved medieval town is filled with haunting chanting of the Miserere as the “Processione di Cristo Morto” winds its way slowly through the narrow city streets.

To quote from the body responsible for the procession; the Confraternita Santa Croce dalla foce “the Procession of the Dead Christ is a sacred symbolic representation of the Passion and Death of Jesus.  It represents a popular religious tradition that has been embodied for centuries in the social and cultural fabric of the people of Gubbio and in which the whole city participates with devotion“.

The first sound we hear is the clacking of the ‘battistrangoli’ the decorated wooden boards with metal rings turned by hand that announce the arrival of the procession.  Soon to arrive are ‘incappucciati’, the celebrants sheathed in a hood that covers the entire face with just two holes for the eyes.  The hood is seen as a sign of humility and anonymity:  Faces and social classes are hidden … all are seen as equal in the eyes of Jesus.  Soon the streets are filled with the haunting sounds of the Miserere a mournful chant that precedes the arrival of the dead Christ carried high by the celebrants.

We spend the evening in Gubbio, dining in a restaurant which is passed by the procession.  For those interested you can read more, see many photographs and listen to the Miserere and the beautiful chorus of the “Pie Donne” by clicking on this link: Santa Croce Gubbio

April is a time when Umbria comes alive.  Come discover it!  Come take advantage of Bellaugello Spring deals.  We are offering four night midweek breaks at a huge 25% discount on our daily rates.  Choose your luxury suite, check-in Sunday or Monday and stay four nights.

Pay three nights and we give you the last night accommodation and breakfast for free.  See the website Deals page for full details, or just click HERE  to book your break now!  To take up our offer during the booking process simply enter “Rock” in the promotional code box.

Fields that have been sown over the winter begin to turn verdant green, roads are not too busy.  Umbrian blossom trees give generously, vines are pruned and new shoots are appearing, a fine time for that long wished for vineyard visit and wine tasting.   Cantinas like Di Filippo who make stunning bio wines, and Lunelli with their unusual Carapace visitor centre welcome Bellaugello guests.

If your preference is for leisurely eco-tourism wend your way on a bike along quiet roads in beautiful countryside through some of Umbria’s many beautiful hilltop villages.  Of course, always remembering to stop off for a delicious lunch.

For those keen to keep fit there are many challenging bike trails.  The thrill seekers in you will head up the slopes of the Apennines in the Monte Cucco regional park where challenging trails take you through spectacular scenery far from the madding crowd.  Our local bike shop can rent you a great bike, helmet and all the required kit. Just let me know and I will arrange it for you.

Or, maybe you prefer to be Italian and rent a Vespa….  All is possible here!

rent a vespa on your gay holiday ini Italy

Maybe you prefer to go by foot?

Go ‘Urban Trekking‘ and you will find yourself walking through one of the many beautiful medieval towns in the region, allowing you to discover the thousand faces of a town, its hidden places, its people, its underground, its curiosities and its artistic treasures.  My favourites are many and include Spoleto, Bevagna and Montone.

Still not convinced? Here are some further ideas for places to visit during your gay holiday at Bellaugello:

Driving up from Rome you pass near Orvieto.  Take time to look around the Etruscan town. Explore its astonishingly impressive Duomo with its sculptured facade, to my mind the most beautiful in Umbria, and inside some very interesting frescoes, frescoed indubitably with a love that dare not speak its name.  Head underground to the city below the city, two thousand five hundred years of digging has produced a labyrinth of passageways and chambers.  The underground tour takes one hour.

make a visit to Orvieto cathedral on your gay holiday in Italy

Not to be missed is the ‘Pozzo di san Patrizio‘.  Designed by the architect-engineer Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and completed in 1536  The 53 metre deep well (248 steps) is encircled by double helix ramps allowing mules to bring up water to the city.

A hop skip and a jump away from Orvieto brings you to the long footbridge to Cività di Bagnoregio, a 2500 year old car free hamlet that sits atop an extinct volcano.  I discovered it on my first trip to Umbria many many years ago.  Then it was forgotten, deserted, desolate, and had a population of five.  Now it has become a heritage site and is becoming too busy in the summer to visit, but April is a perfect time.  Walk over the long bridge and soak up the atmosphere, wander freely through the timeless film-set like streets.  Enter the church, drink a caffè or Aperol Spritz in one of the trattorias that offer local dishes, absorb ‘la vita quotidiana’ as it has been lived through the centuries.

make a visit here during you gay holiday in Italy

Another great day trip from Bellaugello takes you to southern Umbria.  In the 1950s the Milanese architect Tomaso Buzzi purchased the old former Franciscan convent and turned it into a theatrical fantasy known as ‘La Scarzuola“.  Embodying architecture and allegory from throughout the ages the village is a unique gaily whimsy delight.

…and not forgetting the sybarites who are able to tear themselves away during their gay holiday from Bellaugello’s sauna a ‘must’ trip takes you past Lago Trasimeno and just into Tuscany to the Terme at San Casciano dei Bagni.  These ancient Roman terme were restored some thirty years ago. Three simple baths sit by the side of a dirt road below the charming town.  We tend to go early evening, it can be more fun.  The water is deliciously hot, not too sulphurous, jump in, relax, enjoy.

gay holiday in Italy, the terme at San Casciano

The choice is vast. Umbria is not only a region of churches and museums but unique curiosities.  With a gay holiday stay at Bellaugello you are going to be captivated and want to return.

For more in depth information on the region visit the: Umbria Tourism Website

As if by magic our local town of Gubbio hidden away in a quiet corner of Umbria, itself a beautifully sleepy region in the centre of Italy has a distinguished historical connection with Harry Potter, and now you can live the Hogwarts experience yourselves.

The unassuming village of Ponte d’Assi is not only home to a great bakery and friendly petrol station, the drop off point for packages by lazy courier drivers, the joiners who made the large table that sits on the terrace at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, around which so many meals in great company have been enjoyed but it is also home to a small light industrial estate where one company is truly global.

MedioEvo started many years ago in metalwork, and through their dedication to excellence and detail won the contract for supplying props and costumes two major Hollywood film series, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.   Recently as if by magic they have opened a store dedicated to Harry Potter memorabilia.  Here you can shop for wands, broomsticks, gowns, potions and Flying Cauldron ‘beer’ and much much more.

Oh! doesn’t Daniel Radcliffe look so young!