Out with the Old… IN with the NEW!

Hey guys! I’m back.  No, I have not been away, I spent the last week in the cosseted bliss of Bellaugello Gay Guest House, I have been working, and also at the same time thoroughly enjoying myself.

It was so splendid to have welcomed back guys who stayed here earlier in the year.  This time they were on a whistle-stop tour of the galleries of Umbria and with a specific mission to see the glorious exhibition at nearby Fabriano:da Giotto a Gentile Fabriano 2015which has been extended until 15th. of this month.  Needless to say the guys were overwhelmed.  We chatted and chatted, caught up on news and through the Bellaugello network made new contacts.

Snow came lots of it.. It was beautiful but meant that some guys did not make it here for our annual New Year’s Houseparty.  The guys that did make it here had a blast!  They soon made friends with the other guests and a real convivial atmosphere rang out.  We ate well, partied well and relaxed, the sauna was well used, utterly great heated by a log stove, the window looking out over a snow clad valley, and the icy shower fed by spring water…

We launched chinese wish lanterns into the inky black sky, opened the process and franciacorta, bubbles fizzed, the lanterns drifted higher and higher, wishes and kisses made…

So out with the old IN with the NEW

Time for me to make several changes in my life:  I changed the mobile phone contract, it seems the longer you have a mobile with a company the less they respect or appreciate or reward your loyalty, so out with Tim and onto C.Voce.  Only problem being that there is now a lag between the removal of one service and the commencement of the new, so I am phoneless.  It is a really odd feeling.  Nobody could accuse me of being a cell phone junkie, but I guess I have got used to carrying about the old iPhone and being in touch be it telephonically or internally.  So weird not to have to find my phone before going for a fog walk or out so meet friends.  It is like being naked but far less pleasurable.

And a stiff worded email to the internet providers.  I use that term lightly.  Not a change, but a continuation and change to more assertive tactics.  Last September I thought in my stupidity that if I requested a VOIP connection, and thus payed a higher monthly tariff, I would receive better service.  but NO! plus ça change!   The Agreement was that they would transfer the existing fixed line number to the new VOIP service “ten working days required”.  Now I know Italians are delighted to go on strike at any excuse, but really, I ask you have they not worked ten days since the first of November?  The old line is still connected, the VOIP has a ‘temporary’ number +39 075 781 6463, do try calling it is a giggle.  NO it is not, to be serious I need this change made and made now.  I wrote to “T A” informing them so, to be told ‘sei troppo esigente’ – I am too fussy…  Ha! now put that in your pipe and smoke it.  So an email to remind them that today on 5th. January they still have not provided me with the service which of course they have already long since billed me.

Then there is Finlayson.  A Finnish company.  I love Finland, and Finnish guys are adorably cute and handsome, but Finlayson takes the biscuit.  On ‘social network’ I discovered an advert for linens featuring the design of Tom of Finland.  Now I thought, great! just the kind of product that would look good in the luxury gay guest house in central Italy.  Initially I thought to a few items, maybe in my illusion I had thought in the future to also retail this range.  So I went online and completed an order.  I emailed requesting that they send me a tax invoice so I could charge my purchase to the business.  Italian tax law is quite defined and rules have to be obeyed.  A further few emails resulted in silence, then finally on day eleven came the reply:” Thank you for your mail. Unfortunately there is no space where to write the company name on the order.”  Aren’t both countries in the European Union?  I persevered.. but then gave up.  To cut a long story short the unopened package was collected and returned. I requested a refund.  On Friday they tell me that the money was credited to my card, funny my bank did not seem to know that, this morning it had not reappeared.  So another strongly worded email, and I daresay a resume on f/b.

British companies it seems, are not bound by the equal opportunities act.  Well, they are in some ways but not in others.  They must not discriminate on grounds of sexuality, but that relates only to a person, not to a business.  So it is that the travel guide “Alastair Sawday” is able to refuse my application for Bellaugello’s membership on the grounds that:  La ringrazio per averci mandato il Suo modulo di accettazione.  Lo abbiamo guardato attentamente e siamo spiacenti di comunicarLe che abbiamo deciso che la Sua attività non verrá inserita nella prossima edizione della nostra guida.  Non seguiamo dei criteri specifici nello scegliere i nostri alloggi ed i motivi che ci portano a decidere di non inserire un’attività possono essere svariati. Nell’interesse della guida, dobbiamo considerare attentamente ogni regione d’Italia e valutare che tipo di struttura offriamo ai nostri lettori.Per noi, non è giusto incominciare una partnership lavorativa se pensiamo di non riuscire a garantire un alto livello di clientela. Crediamo che sia importante che i proprietari siano contenti del numero degli ospiti che la nostra guida può assicurare. “So it is evident gay guys do not use their guides, the author of this email reply to me does not want them to either… what a missed opportunity, but one I can do thing about and quite frankly I advise any gay or lesbian or transgender user of the guides to desist at once.

And then there are the famous multi nationals, those names you see in the glossies, plying their wares.  British based, one specific sector of business, in London highly lucrative, and again refusing to work with Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  They know who they are, I will not name them now but in due course will blog extensively and campaign against them.  Their treatment of gay businesses is shabby and must be exposed. I have tried to work with them since August, initially they are charming and courteous obsequious even, but on learning my business is concentrated on the gay market, they filibuster, they blank me, and do not reply to emails or telephones, or pass me to other members of the team who seem not to exist.  Resolution – Revenge..  hehe!

And to the next item on my agenda of making 2015 work for me.  I have an Apetto, a cute dinky three wheeler which I use on the farm and for taking the trash to the bins.  The insurance ran out on 23rd. December. In Italy one has fifteen days in which to renew the policy. That takes me to today.  Now I am already in long discussions with he boss of my insurance brokers – apparently they can change the contents of an existing policy at their whim and not bother telling the insured.  They can and do also delay payments, to the extent that I am still waiting for payment of a claim that dates back to August 2013.  Foolishly I began to have faith in this director, who promised me a swift resolution, this was after all November when he came on the scene.  To date the mix up over the policy has not been resolved, the section of the policy which they removed has not been re-instated (at least I am on record as having written instructing its reinstatement) the Apetto insurance has run out so now I have to physically get to my local office in the town of Gubbio to process the payment.  I have to go to the motor authority for the ‘temporary document’ they issued expires today and the original has not been sent, and I will then return home and compose another email to the director requesting that he kindly prioritise my work.  Why is it all so frustrating, why oh why, and of course tomorrow is once again a public holiday.

To happier things, the sun is shining, the skies are blue, outside a great clean fresh light, 2015 is going to be a great year.  I feel good.  Bookings for this year are already coming in strongly, many repeat guests and many new and several on guys’ recommendations, it is all so very rewarding.  Guys, I suggest if you want to chose your suite that you book now, some weeks in high season are already booked out.

I am working on two huge new projects, one will be announced later in January, it is real exciting and will so increase the Bellaugello experience, the other is for later this year and for that you will definitely have to wait.  But I say that 2015 is my year.  I have been let down in so many ways in 2014, led up garden paths, blindly followed into dead ends, but now I am making changes, and they feel so good!

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NOW RECRUITING!  Looking for enthusiastic dedicated guys to work here at Bellaugello Luxury Gay Guest House this year.  I have vacancies in all departments.  Guys must have a love of working with people, be enthusiastic, ‘solare’ adaptable, and highly professional.  I run the best gay guest house in Italy and I need only the best staff. You will be part of a small eclectic team working with great guests in a fabulous environment. 

Are you interested in Cooking? Waiting? Cleaning? Gardening? Are you a qualified Masseur?  You don’t need tone be gay, just be tolerant, fit, and open minded.  Send me your CV and a recent photo Skype “Bellaugello” or email: info@bellaugello.com

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Buon anno a tutti!

 

On browns…

Be it leaves that need raking, the Chiascio river in the valley below still full after the recent storms, the earth that requires shifting, or doors that have to be varnished, every task on my agenda had the same colour, all be it different shades, today was a day of browns.

After the rains of two days ago the ground is well and truly sodden.  I guess we have all seen the horrendous flooding in Genova and around the Como / Lugano area, well, somebody decided that Umbria was missing out, and so sent the rains this way too.  A huge thunderstorm, valkyries flying, lightning, so dramatic, and with all the hullabaloo a significant amount of water.  So today, in the weak but warm sunshine, I had to prioritise my tasks.

The doors won out.  I had the sandpaper, and wire brush, I had even started the job at the end of last week, and now the doors would be dry enough for me to continue.  So out I trotted and spent an entire day rubbing, smoothing, de-dusting and cleaning before giving the outside doors and windows their first coat of waterproofing.  The doors here at Bellaugello are solid wood, heavy, real heavy, and beautifully made, but the wood preservative does tend to disappear in the high heat of the Italian summer.  Worst affected are the south facing windows and doors, and they were not looking too clever, time for the maintenance man.

Bobby decided to keep me company, curled up at my feet, moving with me from window to window in the sunshine.  A break for lunch, a warming bowl of home made soup full of vegetables, the last from our ‘orto’ here at Bellaugello and some from neighbours gardens, a liberal dousing of parmesan, together with homemade wholemeal bread, a great nourishing workies lunch.

Now it is dark, the tools put away, dogs walked, and I am drinking one of the last cups of my Marks and Spencer Earl Grey tea, yes, another brown, and this time a dwindling supply which sadly will not survive until Christmas.

This evening, a phone call, it seems we are off to the thermal springs in San Casciano, Pizza first in our local town of Gubbio, then drive through to Tuscany, it will be so good to relax in the hot sulphorous waters under the inky black sky, I adore the ancient Roman baths at San Casciano, this will be the first time I have been this autumn, and I cannot wait, enough browns for one day, time for some indulgence!

Hey Ho! Over we go!

Here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House autumn is upon us, a time for checking everything prior to winter.  So it was that together with Bobby and Jenny I trundled off downhill in the Apetto down the valley to the river Chiascio for an early morning dog walk.

Bellaugello Gay Guest House, seen from Valdichiascio, Gubbio, ItalyPassing I just had to snap a pic of the house,  nestling so beautifully in the Umbrian countryside.

Bellaugello Gay Guest House's Apetto in the sun dappled lanes of Valdichiascio

Down at the river, sun hot, a delicious heat, water cold, too cold for me, but the dogs had a rare old time…

Bobby from Bellaugello  in the ChiascioSunlight hitting the Chiascio, a morning walk from Bellaugello Gay Guest House

And so back up the hill, wet but happy dogs in the cab, the views magnificent, autumn colours abounding, and wonderfully fresh clean air.

Bellaugello Gay Hotel, Umbria Italy

and so on to the fields.  I decided to ‘beat the bounds’ of the estate, that is drive round the boundaries, checking on hedgerows, ditches and paths.  Onto the large flat field and on to check the olives.

Bad news, as with so many olive groves in Italy this year, the olives are in a very sorry state.  The wet summer left us a legacy of destroyed olives.  Little larvae bury themselves in the folds of the new formed fruit and the resultant insect bores its way out leaving a telltale flight hole and damaged flesh.  There will be no olive harvest this year at Bellaugello, the first time and I must admit I am sad, I so love the feel of the olives as they run through my fingers as they tumble into the nets, a sensation not for this year.

sad looking olive, the non harvest of 2014Olives ripening in the autumn sun in Umbria, Italy, but no olive harvest this year at Bellaugello Gay Guest House

It is such a shame, but that is farming for you.  Onward and upward, continue the tour of the estate.  Into the next field, steep, grass still damp, but going in from the top was fun, round a few curves, stop to check a woodland track and then a reverse twiddle forward again, try to take the uphill corner and… Yeeks! Squeal! Bang! we fall over!!  Yes the Apetto, complete with Bobby, Jenny and myself in the cab tips over and lands on its side.

We land in a wet tangled heap.  Really weird climbing up out of a door and out to survey any damage.  Luckily Apettos are light and almost seem to be designed to be easily righted.  One two three and push, over and up, the Apetto is back on its three wheels.  Damage control….  The rear view mirror is no more, the offside window has fallen out, the fixings were tired and worn and due for replacement, luckily the glass is not broken, a bit of grass and mud on the paintwork – just makes the machine look more authentic, and little further damage in evidence.  Press the starter button, it fires up! Hooray!

So gingerly into gear, dogs trotting behind and slowly up the slope and back onto the road, broken bits in the back.  I am off to the parts dealer today.

 

A trip round the lake – lungolago

Lago Trasimeno is the largest body of water in central Italy, it dominates the highway from Toscana to Perugia. The North shore is filled with towns such as Passignano and Tuoro that have a ‘seaside’ feel, there are shops filled with buckets and spades, inflatable armbands and floaty toys, restaurants abound, fish predominating the menu. The esplanade gives grandly onto the lake, the sun shining from the south over the water glistening on the limpid waves. Ferries take one onto the lake over to the islands, where one can have a damn good lunch.
But it is the south side of the lake I prefer, it is quieter, more remote, agrarian and somehow real. Every farm in this fertile environment has a stall selling their own Km Zero produce. I stopped at my favourite food place “Da Maria” looking like a truckers stop, even more so now that a major re-building project is underway And took my ticket. I love this place popular with locals and travellers, you eat well and the atmosphere is very convivial. Wait at the crowd, it is like the deli counter at the supermarket, fresh food appearing all the time,. I inspected the counter overflowing with local dishes and the wood fire cooking the ‘Torta al Testo” the local flat bread that is then filled with almost anything your heart desires. My choice of lunch was not the torts but instead fish from the lake itself, they are small fillets, dipped in light batter and fried – the nearest thing to British fish n chips here in Umbria. Utterly delicious, I took my tray and plastic plates and sat amongst the madding crowds in the dappled shade of the umbrella pines looking out over the lake.
Thence onwards to Castiglione del Lago, the ancient Umbrian castellated town on the border with Toscana. A delightful walk along the lungolago, a wee snooze in the sun on an all too convenient bench and a few photos – maybe he was the guy who caught my lunch…

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Castiglione is a town fully on the tourist trail, shops overflowing with cheeses, salamis, ceramics, lentils and pulses, and a few nice cafes to boot, it is very visitor friendly and easily reached for a day trip from Bellaugelllo Gay Guest House

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Buongiorno!

Che spettacolo! Sono svegliato sta mattina con il cielo così colorato, adoro d’essere qui presso Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria.

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