Take 1kg raisins, 500g sultanas, 500g glacé cherries, 500g dried apricots, 300g dates, 330g prunes, add the jar of pungent fragrant dried figs that I did last year.
Chop and put in a large bowl.
Pour over liberal quantities of Brandy, Rum, Creme di Cassis, and Marsala.
Marinade for three days
I have enjoyed a really busy season this year, thanks guys for coming to stay at Bellaugello, it has been a fabulous summer and I have had an amazing time, I so love my work. The season is far from over however, having a few nights with no bookings (back in time for this weekend’s arrivals) decided to head off to recharge my batteries to be ready for the autumn/fall.
As many of you have already read in a previous post there was ‘no room at the inn’ in Puglia, so I thought dash it, why not head in the opposite direction north to Alto Adige, and that is what I did.
Recommended to me by lovely guests of mine from the Netherlands, I found online the small designer hotel and spa only accessible by cable car, and booked in for a stay. To make the most of the away feeling I booked to travel both ways by train, my passing near Verona noted on an ‘App’ by Bellaugello guests, and stopping overnight in Trento where I have friends from Valdichiascio who owing to work and school commitments currently live .
What a wonderful city, elegant, chic, clean and functioning. My hotel room (grey – paint, windows, sheets, sandpaper towels, floor and sanitary ware) was made bearable by its cheapness and superb view of the piazza and the duomo. A casual dinner with my friends in their stylish apartment before heading back to the land of grey to be rudely but romantically woken by the bells at six am!
Anyway after some retail therapy – delightful, I headed further north and after a trip on a super clean local train, arrived at Lana, my destination and decided to walk from the train station to the cable car station. Embarrassing mistake, it was a long uphill 1 1/2 hours walking through well asfalted clean streets, alongside beautifully manicured gardens and orchards overflowing with ripe pump apples. It was indeed glorious, hot sunshine but spoilt by my peasant farmer appearance in pulling an easyjet size roller case, scrunch, scrunch, scrunch, through this immaculate functioning town, horribly humiliating.
Alto Adige is in Italy, but only in name. It is the only autonomous self governing region of Italy and it works!
Back in Umbria it has taken the visit to my neighbours in Assisi of the chef executive of a global multinational (the one who states we ‘should shun worldliness’) to have the streets in that already over-manicured city re-asfalted and cleaned, the superstrada from Perugia to Foligno I’m told closed for his visit, and the previously abandoned and decaying helicopter port at Perugia hospital to be re-painted, and made smartly operational. Oh it makes me so angry. If this chief executive is as he says the ‘man of the poor’ then why all this insane fuss for a couple of hours’ visit? Every day we live with disfunctional services, a commune that has lost its money and has none (as they will tell you from the comfort of their smart offices) to turn on the heating in the schools, collect the trash, maintain the roads. Umbria is a delight, beautiful scenery, but nothing works except the bureaucracy destined to maintain the bureaucracy.
It’s in the local news that Europe has awarded a grant of €360,000 to the improvement of the pilgrimage route which goes (depending on which commune you administer) from Gubbio to Assisi, or Assisi to Gubbio, anyway it passes nearby Bellaugello as it traverses the Chiascio valley winding up hill and down dale past the idyllic abbeys of San Pietro (hermit within – no welcome here) Biscina, and the castle of Giomici all seen from the windows of Bellaugello Gay Bed and Breakfast. The talk is that they want to make it as well trod as the pilgrimage route of Santa Maria di Compostela and with the multi-national’s current chief exec. they already have a groundswell of interest and some free publicity, but maybe someone should tell them that that route does not involve walking along main roads with heavy lorries thundering past and local businesses are open and welcoming when the pilgrims walk past.
On current business models here the award of the grant will involve the opening of new offices, the purchase of designer furniture, smart phones, tablets, luxurious motor cars for long lunch breaks, and a goodly quantity of new staff on government contracts with delicious pension rights, leaving only €360 to put to the pilgrimage route. On past opportunities missed, we in Gubbio also have the world’s largest, and t my mind spectacularly gay and most unfamous Christmas Tree which reaches to the top of the mountain behind the city. Sadly, some years ago they were offered sponsorship by Coca Cola and said no! along with the truly splendid, stunningly atmospheric, historic and bewitching Festa dei Ceri – the unadvertised and unheard of race of the candles, – the commune has no money but it still has money to spend on a month long party for its citizens! There is not much hope for us.
To make matters worse the weather is changing, I have a cold and sore throat. I am currently on the train back home (the fourth of the day) – you will get this live when I return as my mobile contract has been wrongly applied I am really incommunicado, and except for wifi have been without phone or internet for two days. This train, like the first is late, in fact all but one have been late, we are now sitting in a field in a queue going nowhere….. Bit like Italy really. A small but significant aside. One of my connections home was by FrecciaRossa the smart Italian high speed train, only 1/2 hour from Bologna to Firenze. There are various classes of travel from economy through business to executive – eight seats taking up I think half a carriage (that is 34 standard seats) probably designed for politicians, it was notable that the only people in this section were Trenitalia staff….
Back to the multi-national, maybe if he knew just how we peasants live the chief exec if true to his pr department would do something about the roads and the trash inequalities and lack of services. As my train is stuck in a field waiting to go south past Assisi and thinking he would be true to his pr and would be driving himself in his Renault 4 I had thought to invite him to Bellaugello Gay Guest House, give him a cup of tea and some of my yummy home-made cakes and marmalades and breads, however it would have been in my lawyers words “un spreco di inchiostro’
Anyway my holidayette was wonderful, the spa luxurious and relaxing, and as you can probably gather I am feeling re-charged… watch out!