A warm welcome

Sunshine, delicious warm sunshine today and with the grass cut on the lawns at Bellaugello Gay Country House I was in time to ready the Giardino Suite for a couple of friends who telephoned this morning and are travelling through Umbria on their way to Siena which is not that far away and asked if they could call in and stay the night with us.

A warm spring welcome!  The Giardino Suite at Bellaugello Gay Country House, Umbria, Italy #Bellaugello

Although we are not yet quite open, that delight is for the 2nd April in time for Easter it is a good excuse to air a suite and have it checked out before the season.

The bedroom of the duplex Giardino Suite at Bellaugello Luxury Gay Bed and Breakfast in Umbria, near Florence and Rome Italy,#Bellaugello,#Gay

I so love the Giardino Suite, it is our duplex, the upper level shown in the photographs is dreamily romantic, a four poster bed from a palace in Sicily, and huge views south over the Chiascio valley towards Assisi.  Stairs lead down to the dining kitchen which I have furnished in a retro style, matching the light fittings and paintings I brought from Scotland, and of course the retro bathroom,The Bathroom of the Giardino Suite at Bellaugello Gay Gueat House in Umbria, Italy

both of which lead onto the private terrace, space for a large dining table, a couple of sun loungers and an outdoor shower….

The south elevation of Bellaugello Gay hotel in Umbria, near Florence and Rome, Italyand a few steps away from our infinity pool…

The infinity pool, winter slumber at Bellaugello Gay Agriturismo, Gubbio near Assisi, Umbria, ItalyA pool with a view, the salt-treated 15m x 5m infinity swimming pool at Bellaugello gay gasthaus, Umbrie, ItalieThe pool might not yet be open but it is looking good, the views are huge and the peace surreal.  It has been a wonderful day here at Bellaugello, and now as our friends arrive we will cook roast local lamb and vegetables bought from the market in Gubbio.  Accompanied by a Sagrantino from the gorgeous vineyard of Adanti it is going to be a super evening.

Are you still searching that ideal Easter break?  We have a few suites still available.  Why not come and join us?  Friday 3rd April sees the ‘Processione di Cristo Morto’ in our local town of Gubbio, a mysterious tradition dating back centuries…

Processione di Cristo Morto, Gubbio, Umbria as seen by guests of Bellaugello Luxury Gay villa rentalWe will dine in Ristorante dei Consoli in Gubbio on the Friday evening and on Sunday 5th as has become tradition we are all invited to lunch on a neighbouring farm to roll eggs and join in the festivities of a large Umbrian pranzo.

Pranzo di Pasqua a Pratale, Valdichiascio, Gubbio, Umbria, Italia

All that is asked is that guests bring a dish of food or speciality from their home town.  The weekend is very relaxed, Bellaugello is the place to unwind and re-charge, afternoon tea in front of our fire, long leisurely walks in the beautiful Umbrian countryside, our sauna will be lit, sweat off the extra calories…

BELLAUGELLO Gubbio, Umbria,  the sauna #Bellaugello-Sauna

Prices from 250 euro a person for the three nights.  To be one of the lucky ones send us an email to: book@bellaugello.com we look forward to meeting you.






Buongiorno! Good Morning!

I wake to this view, and kind of like it..  Come share it with me…

cloud in the Chiascio valley over the infinity pool at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria, Italy #Bellaugello

It is our infinity swimming pool and you are looking over the clouds low in the valley of the river Chiascio south towards the town of Assisi which is over the far side of the hill on the horizon.  Bellaugello is a peaceful place, far from the madding crowds, a place to relax, unwind and find the real you.

The peacefulness and tranquillity does not mean that you need do nothing on a Bellaugello holiday, no, you can be as active as you wish, and we are here to help.

By popular request we are offering a YOGA RETREAT, with our resident Yoga teacher all the way from Amsterdam, a week to relax and find your inner spirituality, scheduled for 11 – 18 April.  This will be followed on 18 to 25 April by a COOKING COURSE, learn how to make the finest pasta including a tour of one of Umbria’s finest vineyards, and in May back by popular demand our HIKING WEEK, 3 – 10 when Mirko our local guide will be leading guys over the hills in the Monte Cucco Regional Park.  May also sees huge celebrations in our local town of Gubbio, which on 15th celebrates the annual FESTA DEI CERI or race of the candles.  We have a week of cultural excursions planned 10 – 17 May with our guide Danilo, a native of Umbria, with a phenomenal knowledge of those places one normally cannot get to, you will be visiting hidden abbeys, admiring frescoes and drinking Sagrantino

Now is the time to REGISTER YOUR INTEREST for any of the above weeks.  Simply drop me an email to: book@bellaugello.com and I will put you on the mailing list for the holiday of your choice.


Good Friday at Bellaugello

A mass exodus from Bellaugello Gay guest house to the beautiful medieval city of Gubbio yesterday evening – the motive?  The guys wanted to experience the amazing and most atmospheric Good Friday procession of Christo Morto which I blogged about the other day.  This year the guys carried away by the atmosphere actually participated, and walked along with all the uniforms in the procession

Afterwards at dinner together , a starter of my new found favourite baccalà – salt cod slow cooked and served with our own olive oil and lemon zest, conversation flowed freely and stories about the procession abounded.  For the main course being Scottish I served poached salmon – ok it was poached in a liberal dosing of the local Trebbiano white wine, and accompanied by agretti, those fine delicate greens that are still so seasonal. We finished real late with a ricotta pie, which I had laced with fig and ginger marmalade, of course all washed down with moderate quantities of Sagrantino di Montefalco and a rather fine Chianti Classico

Today the guys are off to Assisi, those less traditionally or regiously minded to the delightful Umbrian hilltop towns of Spello and Bevagna.  Me? I think I will stay home and cut the grass!


An explosion of the senses……….

This morning one of my neighbours who thankfully still farms in the time honoured fashion of traditional animal husbandry tumbled down the dirt road in his Apetto, those wonderous three wheel vehicles so evocative of rural Italy.

An ancient farm, lovingly tended, chickens and geese wandering freely, both summer and winter vegetable gardens, and best of all a small flock of sheep all resplendent with Shakespearean names wandering freely in organic pastures on the hillsides under the ancient olive trees.

Milking is still done by hand, and the milk becomes not only the lightest ricotta, perfect on its own or in a fluffy baked ricotta cake, but also one of the finest cheeses in the world – Pecorino, eaten fresh or ‘stagionato’ mature, perfect for grating over hand cut pasta or simply on its own with local honey.  My neighbour learnt his  cheese making skills from a Sardinian shepherd so the cheese is good, real good, and this morning in celebration of the Pecorino I opened a bottle of Sagrantino di Montefalco and in the heat of the late morning sun we sat and I got to taste the new season Pecorino – fragrant, soft, yet at the same time crumbly, delicate, moist, utterly scrumptious.

It was just a wee taste, I am so spoilt,  and fortunately  I have twisted said farmer’s arm and a limited amount of said Pecorino will be on the table for breakfast here for you guys staying here this spring at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.

On the Sagrantino Trail part two: Montefalco

A drive along a narrow road south of Bevagna passing well cultivated vineyards brings you in less than ten kilometers to Montefalco, the home of the Sagrantino di Montefalco, Umbria’s rich, deep, intense and utterly divine red wine.

How I adore Sagrantino, since moving to Umbria it has become one of my very favourite red wines, and where better to taste than its home town.

The streets of Montefalco are littered with Enotecas (wine shops) each offering a different selection of the locally grown DOC wines. Different cantinas make wines of differing styles, and this is born out too in the style of the various enotecas;

So on we trekked past wine whop after wine shop, the picturesque streets equally littered with a smattering of restaurants, but then we caught sight of Pardi’s store.

Pardi is a wonderful store selling their own traditional brand of linens and cotton mixes made in their mill at the delightful sounding town of Bastardo close by Montefalco.  I was on the hunt for linens to make table mats for our dining room here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, and fabric to cover a bedroom chair in one of the suites.  Luckily in their store opposite the church of S Francesco, they had just what I was looking for, a mint/sage green linen with embroidered bees.  An added bonus was that the utterly charming owner of the mill was in the store and she told me about how her late father and uncle first started the business in 1948 using traditional skills and designs that carry on to this day.

By now it was dusk and as we headed back through the main piazza just above the town hall we saw in the inky blackness the moon and venus.

All in all a great outing, easily done in a day from Bellaugello Gay B&B and having refreshed our research we can now offer wine tours and tastings, but to finish this post on choice items I just have to include this picture of the new Range Rover Evoque parked up in one of the Sagrantino wine trail towns, it too kinda took my fancy…

Bygone values – real friendships

Yes, unsurprisingly we still have snow here in Umbria, central Italy, at least places like Gubbio, Gualdo, Norcera and Norcia in the foothills of the apeninnes.  The cold wind continues to blow from the east, and the road to Bellaugello Gay Guest House is blocked by a snowdrift.  So, to quote a line from one of my favourite Eartha Kitt songs ‘no-one was allowed to come in and no-one was allowed to leave the hotel’ – by car that is, however it did not stop me accepting an invitation to lunch at good friends’ farm on the other side of the valley.  I have been blocked in for almost a week and done little but eat to excess and sip on delicious Sagrantino di Montefalco, the ruby rich wine of Umbria, so a good walk and the chance of a chat face to face with a human being was not to be sneezed at, on with the winter gear, and armed with a pair of walking poles off I set for the 1 1/2 hour trek across the valley

Bellaugello Gay Guest House sits on a south facing elevation at some 500 meters of altitude, which has meant that we have not experienced the very worst of the weather, however the road through Valdichiascio has some parts that are completely open to the east, and the altitude rises to some 630meters and with wind straight from Siberia, it is no wonder the road soon gets blocked.  Yes somebody is paid to clear  the road, but they are not always as assiduous as they should be.

The road side is littered with wonderful wind blown snow sculptures

I had just turned into the track leading down to Pratale, the farm to which I was invited to lunch, and to which some of you guys who have stayed at Bellaugello have also been fortunate to visit when I saw Martin and his faithful Camargue horse Papu on snow clearing duties.

And so on the way back down the hill I hitched a ride – or rather was asked to add my now considerable weight to the plough to better clear the track.  I used to be a very keen skiier, but this was a new and slightly alarming experience and not the most dignified way to arrive for lunch

A warm welcome awaited, lunch in front of a blazing fire, divine home-made sheeps’ milk mozzarella and pasta rich with sauce, all from home grown ingredients, washed down with organic wine from the Pratale vinyard.

On the way back up the hill, no offer of a lift this time I noticed! I passed close by the donkeys and sheep sheltering beneath the snow covered olive treesAs I walked past the sheep, the lambs ran to keep up with their mothers, some leaping high into the air, it always amazes and delights me how they can just spring so high in the air and then run off with a skip and a jump.  The route home took me to stop off at two further houses, a chance to catch up on valley news, discuss the various calorific values of different types of wood and efficiencies of various wood-burning stoves, lack of water in wells, lack of road maintenance, and at Monica’s to be once again spoilt with tea and delicious home-made cakes.  My 3 hour walk which was supposed in part to be burning off the excess calories of the past week, ended up being a gourmet trek, what an utter delight!

Aaah bliss!!!

This afternoon snow arrived, Bellaugello Gay Guest House is blanketed in white, an excuse to light the fires and open a decent bottle of the exceptional local wine, Sagrantino di Montefalco, and snuggle up for a romantic evening

Tranquillity amid the chaos…

Another glorious day here at Bellaugello, the sun has been shining and birds singing and I have been out cutting the lawns..

I just love the smell of freshly mown grass, mingled with the aromas of lavender and rosemary as I brush past the plants.  After yesterday’s rain the greens are more verdant than ever, utterly glorious and generous, all around the air is peaceful…

The roses are just beginning to burst into bloom and the marguerite daisies I sew from seed last year (and forgot what they were) are now overflowing in their pots and need to be transplanted to the flower-beds, the wisteria is in its final burst of flowering before shedding its petals, our owl has cleared a safe landing pad in amongst the foliage, and the wee birds in the old cherry tree are busy feeding their young..

Time for a wee glass of sagrantino or a cocktail….

A funny sort of day really…….

I woke up this morning with a dreadful head cold and more than my usual cough, so felt very sorry for myself.

Last night I was invited to join my very good friends from Santa Cristina out for dinner.  They booked a table at the osteria del  Bottaccone in a narrow valley just behind the medieval city of Gubbio.  Now they are fabulous friends and the osteria is one of my favourite eating places, so having finished varnishing the sauna, and having had a good sweat in the sauna, [alone 🙁 ] I showered put on my glad-rags and headed off toward the far side of Gubbio.  The evening was cold, indeed as I was driving to Gubbio it started to snow, that kind of romantic picture book big flake snow, which obscured the World’s largest Christmas Tree still lit on Monte Ingino above the town and fluttered in the turbulence of the car.

I was well wrapped up, but did not feel too great, that did not prevent me from feasting on a vast assortment of antipasti, gnocci, cappeletti, beetroot risotto, anatra con olive, fricco, patate al forno, crescia, melanzane ripieno and a calorific creamy pud, the name of which I now forget!!  I drank litres of water and wished for a driver so I could have had a glass or three of wine!

Conversation was brilliant, a lovely group of friends and people some of whom I had not met before, addresses were exchanged and ideas shared.

I must have got cold, for this morning I felt awful, and I hate feeling unwell.  To make matters worse I had an appointment with the woodsman who was coming to walk one of the woodlands here at Bellaugello Gay Guesthouse with a view to giving me a price for a felling wood for next year.  I did not feel like stepping outdoors let alone trudging through woodland.

My webdesigners were on the phone, we are replacing some of the photos on the website and putting some new ones on, particularly in areas where they were lacking, ie some of the Suites and some nice views including an amazing red sunrise that I blogged about several months ago.  Well it would be the day that my internet kept on crashing.  I had to send files of photos, and yes half way through the transfers –CRASH! NO INTERNET!   Oh I hate technology when it doesn’t work..

It has been a funny sort of day really, the dogs reluctant to go outside, as am I to go out and get firewood.  Grey clouds hang high in the sky and below on the horizon all-around a ribbon strip of blue sky, underneath the land is dull and pasty, the trees are still only the brightly coloured birds flying over the rooftops break the silent monochrome monotony, it has been rather like living in the centre of a large smoked glass sphere.

A friend telephoned from the UK, all is gloom there, spiralling petrol prices, increase on vat and his partner on short time working, his garage roof bucked under a metre of snow, glad I ‘m over here. Later another friend ‘phoned and we had a lengthy discussion about soap,  not that were not clean, we are squeaky clean, but I want to put nice guest soaps and shampoos in the suites.  Oh it is so difficult, so many brands to chose from, so many names, do I go designer, celebrity, eco, hand=made, perfumed or unperfumed, liquid or bar, what size, wrapped or unwrapped,  wrapped in what, and if I get Scottish soaps which I love will guests wonder why there are not Italian soaps, big pressured decisions, maybe I will buy them all!!

The post brought a couple of wine merchants’ lists. I pored over them as I cooked pasta for the dogs, and decided on a nice selection of wines to sample; montefalcos, sagrantinos, montepulciano d’arezzos,  now all I need is to track down some nice large wine glasses… feels like a shopping trip is due, after-all the sales are currently on. 🙂

And talking of shopping an ex-boyfriend rather famous for shopping telephoned last night.  We had a zany conversation about themed weeks here at Bellaugello Gay B&B.  This is a new section on my website, what exactly are ’themed weeks’? Our conversation steered round to strippers – how would I organise a strippers’ week, can you organise a strippers’ week, does anybody organise strippers courses or is it just a skill you have anyway, would people want to come and participate, what if they were all ugly or had no sense of rythym, would the place get a sleazy name ??  We settled on the idea of him coming out here and doing a couple of pool-side stripteases, – he wants to wait until the summer also to give him time to get ‘buffed up’.  Knowing full well neither will happen, I need to think of alternatives, but it is a very nice thought…any cute volunteers??

I was supposed to be out for dinner again tonight, dogs and I all invited, (yes I’m in demand!!) but I telephoned to say I wasn’t going, I would have been rotten company, I will have an early night, like me, Edo has no energy but unlike me he has slept all day.

I am worried about him, his heart races, he eats little, he is so thin, and his back legs are weak, he falters.  I managed to get some pasta cooked in broth down him this afternoon, but he is not well, he tries so hard to be brave and strong, and I try to hide my distress, but neither of us are any good at it.

On the bright side I was given a link to a website with those super sexy pool lilos that you find in the Caribbean and the U.S.  I have tried to persuade chums over the pond to send them to me or bring them in their luggage, but that is not really practicable ‘but darling with those in our luggage here would we put our clothes??’.  Now I find they have made it to France, next stop Umbria hurrah!!

So now with internet connection restored, woodlands marked out,wines beginning to be chosen, soaps still to decide on, photos still to transfer, strippers to contemplate, and Edo snug on the sofa I look out of my sitting room window at the sauna and wish someone had lit the stove for me that I might go down there and sweat out this dreadful cold.

Tomorrow will be another day.