On water and the origins of language

When I bought Bellaugello I had no idea that the name of the property might have an alternative meaning. The vendor explained to me with a sparkle in her eyes that bellaugello is old classic Italian for beautiful bird – bella ugello (today bird is written “uccello”) Sitting overlooking the valley, the property could well be described as a beautiful bird, as many birds fly overhead and the property is certainly a gem. What she failed to explain is that today in contemporary Italian the word ‘ugello’ still has a meaning, or two…..

Ever mindful of ‘global warming’ and scarcity of water it was important to find a house with secure water supplies. Although in the countryside we have the good fortune of having an aqueduct running through the property and hence a public water supply. There has been a house here for many centuries and so there had to be a source of water that pre-dated the aqueduct, and last year I went hunting. Along a track about three hundred metres from the house in the midst of trees and scrub there was a pool where the cinghale came to drink. The custodian had told me that even in the driest of summers water ran out of the ground into the pool. Speaking to one of my neighbours who had lived in the house I learnt that many years ago there was an olive tree nursery with over 2000 plantlets nurtured and grown on. A system of tanks and water baths were in use. The water coming from the spring being too cold to water the plantlets, so a shallow bath to allow water to warm was created out of cotto and stone, and a cistern was built as a reservoir. However that was many years ago and had long fallen into disrepair.

We have attempted to find the original well head, reportedly some thirty metres above the cinghale pool, but many years of neglect have long covered any sign of the structure.

So we are back to the pool with water bubbling out of the bank, have dug an extremely large hole and today will be burying two large tanks ready to collect the water to pump up to further tanks above the house.

There is more than one source of water bubbling out of the ground, and we are devising a system of connecting the springs to help fill the tanks.

In modern Italian the word ‘ugello’ is translated into english as ‘nozzle’ which does help explain the abundance of water bubbling out of the hillside, however in modern Italian slang ‘bellaugello’ has a further meaning of a more phallic nature. Another indicator that we have found the right place for our business!

 

At the spring