This morning at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria, Italy it is the most stunningly beautiful day. The sun is already hot, birdsong fills the air and the countryside is verdantly green.
Being the first of May and so warm, today breakfasts are being served outside on the terrace, the start of summer.
Last night I was invited to friends for dinner and to sing in the month of May. I am always flattered to be included in a local occasion and this was one not to be missed. When I arrived there were a large group of people already around the bountiful dinner table, lots of local dishes and home-made wines to sample and an immense amount of chatting – obviously all in Italian.
The ancient tradition of singing in May has been held here in the commune of Gubbio for centuries. Accompanied by a flute and mouth organ, I am told traditionally it would have been an accordion the local peasantry would have played, the assembled group sung and strummed their way through some seventy two verses, all in the local eugubine dialect. From what I could understand the verses were all about the end of winter, saying goodbye to the cold, welcoming in sun and liaisons between young men and girls, of fertility and good times, of love and contentment after e long cold winter period.
It was a very special evening, and as I write perched on a sun lounger at the side of the infinity pool at Bellaugello
the tulips such a spring delight are now over, the sun is already hot, the garden full of colour, the delicate blues and pinks of the rosemary, and lavender of the wisteria, and thousands of thousands of cheeky yellow dandelion flowers, it is time to plant the geraniums, summer is really here.