This morning I awoke early at Bellaugello Gay Guest House to glorious sunshine and a crisp coating of snow on the garden. Although there has been snow on the summits of the Apennines for some time this was the first morning this year that there was a dusting of snow in the garden here at Bellaugello. Soon the sun had disappeared and the snow was driving hard, flurries of large flakes obscured even the view from my bedroom to the infinity swimming pool.
I had planned to go to the local town of Gubbio as there is a good farmers’ market every Saturday morning, one where I love to buy vegetables, cheeses and breads, so despite the snowfall I ventured out to woodshed, loaded the wheelbarrow up and trudged to the boiler house to load up the biomass boiler with seasoned wood cut from my own woodland, real satisfying, if hard work! I then got to the car and brushed the windscreen clear and set off.
I got as far as the gate when despite winter tyres the car started slipping, so reverse to flat ground and on with the snow chains. Why is it that even modern easy fit snow chains are so un-cooperative? I hate putting them on, no matter how I do it I still manage to get cold hands, wet knees and mightily frustrated. Still I got the chains mounted and headed into town.
Despite there being little lying snow in gubbio the market was quiet this morning, stall holders told of bad road conditions coming from Urbino and Umbertide. Still they made it and I managed to buy some wonderful soft mature creamy cheese made from Buffalo milk, and from the baker who comes all the way from the delightful town of Bevagna just south of Perugia good wholemeal bread and rosemary focaccia. Finishing off with fresh cut salad leaves, heavy juicy blood oranges and crisp root vegetables for stock for soups I headed to the agricultural merchant for a few items before returning home.
On entering the valley, there was no need for snow chains, the sun was shining brightly and the morning’s snow was melting. Umbria at its winter best, crisp, clean, clear and sparkling. I had friends invited over for lunch, and the fresh bread and cheese were destined as an antipasto whilst I cooked risotto of radicchio and pancetta.
My guests sat at the kitchen window, admiring the large view, the Chiascio valley lightly dusted with snow, the peaks of the Apennines all quite white and way to the south the rounded summit of Monte Subasio the hill behind Assisi, as if daubed with a good dollop of thick white emulsion paint, lavishly snow-covered. As we sat to eat flurries of snow dashed against the window,
and then the sun re-appeared as bright and glorious as ever. With this hot sun I unloaded two machines full of washing and put them out to dry on the line. Sun and a light breeze, I thought that the washing would but dry in no time, but no! within ten minutes the blue had vanished and was replaced with angry black clouds, soon it was snowing hard and hard was the best word to describe my washing.
I am now once again at my kitchen window, replying to emails, watching the sun filter weakly through the trees. The oaks still miraculously holding onto their leaves, the sound of chainsaws from the distant hillside as they fell yet more woodland on the banks above the river. The fields are verdant, autumn sown crops young and vigorous, the sky is cloudy, it is a cold sky, but inside the house all is toasty warm and the smell of clean laundry gently drying pervades the air. So far it has been a funny sort of day really.