Infinity pool at Bellaugello

Life is a bowl of cherries

June is the month that it really feels summer has arrived.  The pool water is deliciously good for swimming, the sun is abundant, and evenings, enlivened by the myriad fireflies that dance on the paths and bushes in the garden, long and time for conversations and making friendships.

In the garden the cherry trees both wild and cultivated are laden with bright red fruit.  How is it the birds know to head directly for the plump juicy cultivated cherries, leaving the smaller wild fruit to tumble to the floor.  We picked today, a cherry cake made for breakfast and soon to be made a cherry ricotta pie for dinner this evening.  The fruit for this are currently marinading in a wee drop of brandy.  

After a ‘fruitless’ season last year, a late frost robbed us of all but a few September figs.  This year is a huge contrast, we are so so happy,  all the fruit trees are all laden, branches already pendulous with ripening fruit..  Plums, Apricots, Apples, Medlars, Damsons Figs will all go to make jams for our breakfast table, whilst the Quinces make a ruby red jelly and the delicious Cotognata – real slow cooked quince paste, so good as an accompaniment with the local pecorino.  Sloes, Damsons and Walnuts and maybe for the first time as a trial, also Apricots, will be put under alcohol to make liqueurs to be quaffed after dinners at our terrace table.  More of those stories later.

Of course, our infinity pool beckons.  The sun loungers, capacious and comfortable, shaded by pastel pink umbrellas look out over the infinity pool to the Apeninnes and way off Sibyline mountains, the views are huge and tranquil.  Space to breathe, soak up the sun and swim as naked as the day we were born, it is a delight.

June life at Bellaugello is indeed a bowl of Cherries ripe for the plucking…

Bellaugello Gay Guest House, the garden in May

May, the month of growth

After what seemed like long long months of cold North Easterly winds, those winds that make it hard to ever get warm, the arrival of May seemed as if by magic to move the winds round the compass and instead bring warmer sunnier weather.

My Garden is all too aware of this change, and now, after months of inactivity and looking rather bedraggled it is bursting forth in every direction.  I must admit to having fertilised (organic and somewhat ‘fragrant’ fertiliser) most of the plants, and I am sure this was a huge help and encouragement.

The roses are magnificent, the wisteria was so generous, pendulous lilac and pink flowers covering the west side of the upper part of the house, a show of blooms we have never seen the like of. 

This wisteria was supposed to be white.  The first year it was, then it did not flower for three years.  Year four it gave a few white flowers thence from year five onwards it became lilac.  It is beautiful but we still disagree as to which colour it should be and I do wonder every year what it will decide to show..

I cannot help but love this view of the slight mist in the valley looking from the uppermost terrace over the private garden of the Azzurro Suite far, far to the Apennines and Monte Sibiline, some 70km away.  The May flowering wisteria seems to frame the shot perfectly.

Below a deep pink rose that flowers  through the rosemary that cascades down the embankments, oh, and, yes, a pic of today’s team.  Mauro you must by now all know, and introducing Isis who is helping Daniela keep the house spotless for you guys.

the view to the south from Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Italy

Meanwhile in the valley the Ginestra is so powerful

full frontal nudity


Is it time to show all?

Just a quickie post this evening prompted by a conversation at a recent dinner here at Bellaugello.

Since starting my blog I featured guys in our infinity pool at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  A way of including guests in the history of the guesthouse.  

The idea being that these photos, except for those guys with obvious tattoos were completely anonymous.   The posts started out as “Bellaugello Backs” just a shot of the back of a head and a bare back out of the water.  Check the archive..  One sunny day a guy from the north of Italy changed all that when he asked to be photographed with his butt out of the water.  Soon other guys asked to be similarly photographed.  I had to oblige.  Thus the series became called “Bellaugello Backs and Butts”, it was and is very popular.

I kind of like that series as you can show the art and holiday snaps to your mother, bank manager or even the neighbours.  Bare butts seem socially acceptable.

The question at dinner arose, should I now be posting full frontal photos, and If not, why not.  Should photos such as the caption pic be without the hand?  Should a pic of a guy under the outdoor shower be ‘less prudish’?  Should pics of  guys in the Jacuzzi or pool be more revealing?   Faces could maybe be blurred out? Come on, after all, full frontal nudity is now seen in mainstream movies, on stage and even occasionally on tv, so why not on a blog.

 Would you like to be part of such a series of photographs, or would you stop being a follower of my blog?

I’m keen to learn your thoughts and reasonings, so, please do leave a comment.

Cantamaggio 2022 Valdichiascio

Singing in May – Cantamaggio

Of fertility, sex and dialectical verses

musicians, cantamaggio 2022 Gubbio, Umbria

I have been fortunate for many years to be invited to join friends and “Sing in the month of May”.

Covid said ‘adieu’ to the tradition, but his year we were able to revive it.  Such a happy occasion.  Friends meeting again to sing for the first time in three years

This evening, the 30th of April is a time to say goodbye to old things and welcome in the new. 

Traditionally an evening of song and food, where people gathered and sang moving from house to house throughout the countryside.  This happened in all parts of Tuscany and Umbria.  In the provincia of Grosetto in western Tuscany I’m told the itinerant singing went on for ten days.  Our festa is fixed, this year outside in a courtyard, but that could not stop us singing 96 verses all in Eugubine (Gubbio) dialect.

The evening started at sundown, a hearty supper of soups, quiches, home cured salamis, tasty “Crescia di Pasqua” cheese  bread, new Pecorino, wood oven baked bread and salad from the garden.  Guests had brought wines and Proseccos, the mood was light hearted and convivial.  Warm enough to sit out under the Mulberry tree.  Exquisite home baked cakes and pies, soft sweet wines downed, it was soon time to sing.

By tradition there are over 90 verses, each of two lines.  Lines get added as they are rediscovered, the skill being to place them in the context, of the other lines, the correct place in the narrative,  for this is a story.

Our determination is tested as there is a huge chorus part.  The first half of the second line is repeated twice followed by the last part of the line, so you end up singing an inordinately long song.  The subject basically is fertility, procreation and sex.  All in dialect, but even the dialectical euphemisms the meaning is clear.  Lots of mentions of pretty girls blossoming forth and attracting visitors. One line stuck in my memory, ‘my hard pipe is horizontal’.

Our singing is accompanied by Melissa on the harmonica and Martino on flute.  This year they were joined by a tambour and rattle.  We clap along, mis-pronounce the dialect, smile laugh and titter at the innuendoes.  Its a good evening to forget troubles.

Cantamaggio 2022 Valdichiascio
Singing in May in Umbria 2022

The Music is merry, we clap along to the chorus and mis-pronounce the dialect and a lot of giggling and laughter is heard.  Italo stops every few verses to suggest another swing of wine is required.  It is a delightful evening that is now a tradition in its own right.

My heartfelt thanks to Etain and Martin for being the most convivial and generous of hosts, much of the exquisite food, and the inspiration behind the evening and gathering everyone here.  Owing to Covid concerns and crowds, it may have been a smaller number than usual, however the warmth and friendship were as large as ever.

When I have mastered the blog skills better I will post a video so you too can sing along and get in the mood for welcoming in the new.  Happy May everyone.

lemoncello @Bellaugello Gay Guest House

On Lemons

Everything is better when homemade

Winter, those short days and cozy evenings spent in front of the fire are when citrus fruit matures.  Early in the new year the wonderful knobbly organic lemons start to appear in the stores in Gubbio, our local town, and I HAVE to buy some.

Limoncello, the world known liqueur, all too often in the ghastly chemical form is decidedly only drinkable when made at home.  I get to control the quality of the lemons and ensure that nothing ghastly of fake enters the process.

lemons for limoncello at Bellaugello Gay Guest House

I take these divine organic lemons, carefully pare the fragrant yellow pith and cover it in 96˚ alcohol 

It gets left in a cupboard for at least two months, thus allowing the lemon to infuse in the alcohol.

limoncello in the making
a few weeks and already the alcohol is beginning to be infused wit the fragrant yellow lemons

It's now in the freezer waiting for you to enjoy

Hear the Bellaugello dog

Catch me if you can

A test of wills

As many of you already know almost three years ago I was adopted by a delightful dog whose name I discovered is “Hear” as when on first meeting her in the street here near Bellaugello I called our “Here” and she came!

"Hear" the Bellaugello dog

 Hear has an exquisite nature, adores living in this beautiful countryside and meeting the guys who come and stay with us here in the guest house.

She is protective of her environment, knows the garden and grounds, barks at passing hunter’s cars, but cleverly not barks at new guests arriving.  I have always wondered just how she knows that a specific car is heading here.

As an ex (ie. abandoned) hunting dog – hence the hatred of hunter’s cars she still retains a mild hunting nature.  She has an amazing nose and incredible turn of speed.  On a walk she will give chase (always unsuccessfully) to deer.  At home she is an inveterate chaser of ‘lucciole’ little lizards, digging holes in the newly turned soil.  Her patience knows no bounds.

Cat up an apricot tree @Bellaugello

For a few days now we have seen a large shaggy cat in the garden.  As long as it does not eat the young birds I have no huge objection to this intruder, but it does need to be shown who is boss.  Yesterday at breakfast we noticed Hear sitting motionlessly gazing up into one of the Apricot trees.  A closer look and the object of her attention became evident was the photo on the left shows.


Oh well, the patience was enormous, lasting maybe 20 minutes, but eventually an offer of a walk enticed her away and I guess the cat climbed down and slinked off.


All this time I noticed that the apricot tree is full of tiny green apricots.  So hoping the weather is kind to allow them to mature for us to be serving them both as fresh fruit and in pies and cakes this summer.  The joys of country living 🏳️‍🌈❤️🇮🇹

easter egg

I’m back Blogging

So happy to be back writing at my kitchen window

Goodness, have you missed me?  I have certainly missed you. It has been a very long time since I sat down to my computer and spoke to you all.

It has taken a new website.  (Do you like it? please let me know by leaving a comment), to allow me to blog again.  The old website was like a plate of spaghetti, a tangled mess of coding.  You know, those below desk computer cables that become one almighty mess and you resort to scissors and tape to make t he thing work.  Well that was my old website.  Now thanks to Geert and Lissa and their team I’m back again, and it does feel good.  Yes, it’s a new programme I’m having to learn my way around, so please forgive me if my first posts are amateurish and clumsy.  I promise as I begin to understand and explore the editing suite posts will become more adventurous and smarter .

We threw open our doors for the 2022 Bellaugello Season on Thursday last and welcomed guys from Italy and Germany for our Easter Weekend.  Today is “Pasquetta” the Monday after Easter Sunday. It is a day of little food, for we ate hugely over the weekend.  The sun is hot, but the wind is blowing from the Russian Steppes and is cold.

Our local town of Gubbio was so happy as for the first time in three years the “Processione di Cristo Morto” again took place in the centro storico.  The chanting, costumes, tradition, candles, singing, and the two biers on which are carried shoulder high, the dead Christ and the Madonna processed slowly through the narrow streets. Huge bonfires were lit and blazed, restaurants were full and the town had a great feel.

easter egg

After breakfast served at Bellaugello, the table laden with Colomba, crescia di pasqua, local meats and cheeses, home made breads and cakes and yoghurts, fragrant Taylors of Harrogate teas and excellent coffee the guys set about decorating their eggs which we took to a neighbouring farm to join in their traditional Easter Sunday Lunch.  Guys brought food from their home regions to share.  From Germany we had delicate white asparagus, a vegetable not seen in these parts.  We climbed a small hill and threw our painted eggs.  Our host declaring the rules and consequences which to me seem to change year by year, led to some humorous discussions.  We lunched on amazing home produce, and an array of Italian wines, that the evening was by need lazy and involved sweating in the sauna, with the hardy guys jumping into the pool.

So, it is time to sign off my first blog post of 2022

I hope you have enjoyed this snapshot into the past 48 hours here at Bellaugello.

I already have the next post  lining up with submitted photographs to add to my “Bellaugello Butts” Collection.  Do feel free to send me your butt pic – in the Bellaugello infinity pool. by email or Signal or WhatsApp, the links are on the website   oh, and do let me know if there are other topics you wish me to write about.  You will also read about life here in rural Umbria, the joys and tribulations, the fun and craziness, our gardening, cooking, outings, team and local places to see and visit, not forgetting the occasional rant!

vai gli sposi…

Huge celebration today as one of my neighbours and good friend Marco married Laura in the regal setting of the town hall in our local town of Gubbio under hot Italian sunshine.  Here are the happy couple descending the stairs moments before the traditional rice is thrown.


Dawn breaks into sun..

How strange the weather can be, one moment hot hot sunshine and the next magical mist.  Here at Bellaugello Gay Country House we live in the most breath-takingly beautiful of valleys.  We look south commanding a huge view over the river Chiascio which meanders its way lazily towards the confluence with the river Tiber.

Our valley is peaceful, unspoilt, indeed so many of our guests return again and again to revel in the tranquillity and peace, they find a haven far away from the ‘madding crowd’.  Although not this morning I attach a photo taken recently as the mist which early morning dives low and then magically drifts skywards, a dawn of a new day bringing ever new surprises and joys, you can make out our infinity edge swimming pool already a brilliant azure in the morning light.

Sunlight filtering through the trees at Bellaugello Gay Country House in Umbria, Italy. #Bellaugello

Of course our infinity swimming pool enjoys the best of views,

Readying the pool - early morning at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria, Italy we swim overlooking the valley and way in the far far distance the Monte Sibylline the national park that is in the southern corner of Umbria and which borders the neighbouring region of Abruzzo,

Over the infinity pool at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria, looking towards the Monte Sibylline national parkthe national park is home to the famous Piano Grande that every July so generously gives of its tapestry of wild flowers

Piano Grande, Umbria, #Bellaugelloa trip well worth making in you can bear to tear yourselves away from the glorious poolside at Bellaugello 🙂


Fruit and more fruit

Michael has been busy collecting cherries, he has combed the lanes round Bellaugello Gay Country House selecting the ripest and juiciest cherries which he plucked.   Bags and bags of cherries have appeared in the kitchen we serve them for breakfasts and yesterday afternoon he was busy in the kitchen making cherry marmalade and a spicy cherry sauce, the latter from a recipe given to him by his grandmother.

Today the cherry jam was served on our homemade breads, and many compliments ensued.  I found myself in the garden cutting grass, it seems a never-ending task at the moment, the warmth and occasional shower rapidly brings on the growth.  Skirting around our fruit trees, I notice the figs are not far off being ripe and we have a decent crop of peaches, they may be small but they are looking really good.

Recent guests wrote and asked for my recipe for our home-made limoncello, so I sent it to them and feel now inclined to share the recipe with you.  This year’s limoncello is still not quite ready, we will have to wait until the middle of next month to sample its heady delight and fragrant perfume.  We now have cherries basking in the sunlight, slowly turning alcoholic, and are wondering what fruit will be next.

So here is my recipe for Limoncello.  You need to use the finest unwaxed lemons, I use the large knobbly ones from Amalfi, and of course you need time!

10 lemons – unwaxed preferably from Amalfi
1.2 kg sugar
1 & 1/2 litres of water
1 litre of plain alcohol we use 95% proof
Wash the lemons and remove the rind being extra careful not to cut into the white pith, chop the rind into small pieces.
Place into a clean preserving jar together with .75 l of the alcohol and leave in a cool dark place for 1 month, turn occasionally, I turn the jars when I pass by, curious to see the golden yellow colour becoming more intense.  The container must be hermetically sealed.
To the water add the sugar and gently stir whilst bringing to the boil.  Leave to cool.
Add the remaining quarter litre of alcohol and then combine with the lemon zest and alcohol mix.  Leave in a cool dark place for 40 more days.
Then Strain, filter and put in the freezer and enjoy! Cin Cin!