Whilst many parts of Northern Europe have been experiencing extreme heat, here at Bellaugello although hot, and above previous seasonal averages, our position on a hillside means a gentle breeze blows and we have not experienced the intense heat of France and Germany. We water the garden madly and spend any spare time climbing trees picking fruit which this year is abundant, whilst guests make the strenuous journey of forty paces from breakfast table to our infinity pool where they laze, relax and soak up the sun.
All too often our breakfast chats are of global warming, and how we can all help in small ways to do our bit to make changes for the better. I now look at every apparatus and every purchase to evaluate any impact on global warming. I do not have air conditioning. For several reasons; I do not like the hum of an a/c unit, it keeps me awake all night. The dry air produced only makes breathing more difficult. They are huge unsightly pieces of kit, and who knows how many times the parts have circulated the world before arriving at the shopping mall. More importantly to me it seems totally illogical to produce more energy – electricity (heat) to operate a machine to lower temperature. I read recently that 40% of a southern European city’s electricity consumption was accounted for by air conditioning units. This, if true, is a really sad indication of just how absurd our lifestyle has become.
So I return to Bellaugello. We are picking apricots, the trees are full and branches coloured rich orange, gold and red by the plump fruit. Last year we had one apricot, and it fell off the branch and rotted. This year the first tree produced delicious sharp if slightly unsightly fruit. The two venerable trees are now maturing and are so full of fruit. I ask everyone here to help themselves. We pick, I make jam, and am having to buy a new freezer. Yes, that damn heating to chill global warming question again…
I reach up and pluck, the fig tree is huge. There are so many I cannot get them all, but the birds and insects are happy. I cook with figs.
A couple of dinners ago I served figs stuffed with sharp tangy blue cheese and wrapped in local pancetta baked in the oven (global warming). The sweetness of the figs, sharpness of the cheese and saltiness of the pancetta a perfect combination. Our Bellaugello dinners are such a nice convivial way of eating they now replicated elsewhere. I am glad to be the catalyst. We sit together on our terrace under the stars, candlelight, flowers from the garden or hedgerow and local food, cooked in a local manner. The scent of lavender wafts gently on the breeze and guys from all over the world swap stories and friendships.
Daniela brought in a crate full of small golden plums from her garden. Boiled, softened, and de-stoned they have made another scrumptious marmalade put on the table for our daily breakfasts. I have a wild red plum tree that keeps looking at me and says ‘when are you going to pick my fruit?’ …domani!
I wander down the garden to look at the vegetables. The hare has been in once again and this time eaten the tips of the zucchini. There is a slight gap under the gate and like Peter Rabbit the hare finds its way in to feast on our produce. Our orto is suffering this summer, but the potatoes are good. I planted real dop Colfiorito Umbrian red potatoes and they are now regularly on the menu.
I now look with sadness at my young red plum tree on the lower terrace. Branches are like a weeping willow, bent to the floor. The sheer number of fruit has also broken some of the boughs. I am leaving them attached in the hope the fruit matures, but it is so sad to see the damage to such a young tree. I weep inside.
Meanwhile lavender is in full bloom, the bees are busy and last night I saw the first bumble bee. A good sign. The housekeeping team cut some lavender and make bunches that they place in our suites, a gentle fragrance brings the outdoors in to the rooms.
A rare chance for me to be away for Bellaugello mid-season arose the other weekend with a trip to neighbouring Tuscany. Tenor, Michael Kristensen was singing Steven Sondheim in the delightful theatre Poliziano in the Montepulciano Summer Festival. Always happy to hear Michael sing, and Montepulicano being just over one and a half hours’ drive from Bellaugelo, I was Tuscany bound. A delightful evening, decent aperitivo, indifferent dinner, and a superb production. At midnight we were at a bar in the otherwise deserted main piazza drinking beers and listening to live jazz.
Click the link to read more about Michael Kristensen’s programme. He is currently recording a CD of Danish folk music to be issued in the autumn: Michael Kristensen Tenor
My away days are few and precious, but I have no regrets. I love my job and being here at Bellaugello with such great guests and living in such a beautiful area. It is all too often too hard for me to tear myself away. Of course, there is always work to do somewhere, and last week we made our second cut of hay. This year the weather has been against us on the farm. The rain in May delayed the flowering of the olive trees, the harvest will be small, but it did bring on a good first cut of hay. The hot sun since has meant little subsequent growth. By good fortune we did mange a second cut on half of the big field, hooray! My neighbour, Alvaro is seen here through the heat haze collecting the hay bales which will be fodder for some of the sheep here in the valley. It is so pleasing to produce small bales not these huge industrial jumbo ‘rotobale’
Occasionally even I manage a few stolen hours relaxing at the infinity pool… And you could do the same. We have a few nights still available in August; The Azzurro Suite which overlooks the pool is available for three nights 9th-11th and four nights from 23rd to 27th, and the new look Giardino Suite for seven nights from 24th to 31st August. Both of these suites have outdoor showers.
For an autumn break we have some availability from 7th September onwards. You can book by clicking on this link: BOOK AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER NOW