A quick and painless flight on wednesday from our local airport of Perugia saw me zapping to Brussels to attend a workshop organised by ENIT the Italian tourist board
The office of the region of Umbria is right in the heart of European Brussels and it was there with very generous hospitality that along with other operators from the region of Umbria I met with several buyers, and have done some very worthwhile business.

Now I am off to the large Brussels Expo centre for the holiday fair to do some follow up work.

And then a day of relax, tonight is La Demence (how ironic the evening is themed find a partner!) and I think I might just have to go! Tomorrow in downtown Brussels a bit of retail therapy, I have seen some wonderful things I would like for the suites at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, so I will see if the stores will ship.

Atlantis Summer Mediterranean Cruise

Any guys booked on this summer’s spectacular Atantis Gay Cruise leaving Venice on 24th. August?
We have guys from the cruise booked for some days of relax here at Bellaugello Gay Guesthouse after disembarkation in Rome 3 Sept.
One Last Suite available – book now and share the post-cruise holiday!

Oh it is all a bit of a shambles

Usually the talk here in the depths of rural Umbria, in the delightful sleepy valley of the river Chiascio that looks southwards towards Monte Subasio and the city of Assisi is of farming.  Whether it is the right time to plant a crop, sow seeds, that the weather will get colder next week and water is finally returning to peoples’ wells, of a recipe suddenly discovered and tried and found to be successful, the birth of the first of this years’ lambs, the speed or lack of internet connection, the hopelessness of the telephone network and the state of the overflowing council rubbish recycling bins and of course who was seen out with whom.

One of the delights and things most important to me about living here in Umbria is the warmth and friendliness of my neighbours.  I have been warmly welcomed and encouraged in my endeavours and furthermore made many real friends here in the valley and surrounding area – they even mimick my appalling English accent when speaking Italian! (you know I never knew there was no ‘u’ in appalling) it is all done in a positive supportive way.   To be an expat living here full time it is all a real plus, there is a tangible warmth. We share bowls of pasta simply cooked with vegetables from the garden or local pecorino, eaten at the kitchen table.  When jobs require more than one pair of hands others magically appear.

To analyse the reasons why a bit, (red underscores everywhere –  this spell checker is driving me mad this morning, analize, analyze, analyse, ynalisze, I cannot work out is all of a sudden I am dyslexic, senile, or Apple are subtly changing spellings and British English is being re-written or phased out and replaced with iWrite) it is most likely a good thing for someone to buy an abandoned house and farm deep in the rural Italian countryside, and set about its restoration and turn it into a year round home and associated business.

I understand to open a business is commendable, it shows enterprise and commitment, and brings life back into the community, but when the business is not exactly mainstream and is in the midst of an area with very traditional catholic values, life could have gone sorely wrong.  But it has not.  I am very lucky to be here amongst such supportive people.  Life is honest and relaxed, our values are real, there is no great materialism here, we are firmly rooted to the land, and to helping each other.  Yes, we all have problems to solve, most are now really suffering from the economic downturn, jobs are precious and scarce, costs are rising exponentially, but there is a sense of a real community and people wanting to live in harmony, and they cope admirably with a gay guest house in their midst.  Possibly in some peoples eyes that is a simplistic analysis.  To us it is the norm, reality, and is liberating.  Ok, if one thinks about it, one does tend to miss out on the mainstream of life, all fads and fashions and celebrity can pass one by, whether this is good or bad time will judge, but for now I wouldn’t change it.

However all of a sudden the locals have become like switched on slick city dwellers.  The resignation of Mario Monti last autumn and the upcoming elections have sparked a fire like I have not seen before in my time here in Italy.  Talk revolves around who will lead the next government, what their policies will be – reality not spin is being searched for.  How the abuses and scandals of the past cannot and must not be repeated.

The recent announcements by Silvio Berlusconi that he is going to stand, will not stand, and now wants to be the finance minister has set the jungle drums beating.  In the past here people have not thought of how Italy is seen on the  world stage, they either have not had the media access or have not believed, but now they are tuning in,  becoming increasingly proactive and aghast and having undergone real pain in the past year are looking for real change.

Over the past year Italy has begun a huge and necessary upheaval.  Taxes have risen, cuts are being made everywhere and prices are rising, it affects all of us.  The role of people in various civil service jobs is being challenged,  their roles questioned.  Bureaucracy, the plague of Italian life is increasingly bemoaned, people want an honest pay for an honest day’s work and a simple honest way of being able to achieve that.  The way of life is changing, and now having felt the pain, and I speak for my friends, they, like me want to see the job through to recovery and good times.  They are incredulous at the prospect of a return to the past, rich getting richer and poor becoming even more downtrodden, lies spun by billionaires whose actions are not seen as being aspirational, whilst the infrastructure crumbles.

After one of Mr Berlusconi’s last anti-gay statements I made the jest that if he returned to power or is worse still becomes the ‘king maker’ I would emigrate – I rarely voice an opinion on Italian politics, a subject which still baffles me, and anyway as a foreigner I cannot vote in parliamentary elections, and I would, for all the reasons stated above, be loathe to leave Bellaugello, but this time I did and was met by a wave (dare I say Tsunami or is that not PC?) of agreement.  It seems there will be a mass exodus.

Finally this country is waking up to the abuses and scandals of the past. Let us hope common sense prevails and a constructive fresh government is formed to take this wonderful country that has shown me on a local level such friendship, support and warmth back to stability, growth and halcyon days.

But for now it is all a bit of a shambles.

Back to the land

A perfect Christmas present from very special friends arrived today, and so wasting no time three new ‘Leccino’ olive trees were, with the aid of Ben’s overly muddy Landrover taken to their new home and duly planted.  Good to be back on the land once again

2f413e21ec0b478d5342f1ef289d2a3c be3d51a23ab3e1d40eb2a8444487c4ce Planting the new line of Leccino olive trees at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Umbria, Italy

Benvenuti 2013

A fabulous evening at Bellaugello, we feasted elegantly on local produce with a Scottish Italian menuThe Table for New Year's Eve at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, Umbria, ItalyAnd as the clocks struck midnight we were outside on the terrace to launch sky lanterns each making a wishLighting the lanterns at New Year's Eve 2012/2013, Bellaugello Gay Guest House,  Umbria, Italien DSCN3417.JPG

And so with finest Prosecco we welcomed in 2013

And a Very Happy and prosperous new year to you all, and for regular updates on halcyon life here at Bellaugello do keep reading and commenting on my blog, Hugs Alec


Yes, I’m still here

Hello, I’m still here.  No, It’s not the alcohol or over indulgence of the festive period to blame, it is my lack of understanding of the new Apple software which seems to make life more complicated posting photos nigh on impossible.

I am loathed to post without pics of the beautiful days here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria.  I have not written for a bit ‘cos I am having problems uploading photos, the file sizes are simply too big and are swamping my blog programme.  Now to boot I have lost the cable to connect the camera to my computer, so alas no pics.

In the meantime please take my word for it the sun is shining, the sky is cloudless, the evenings are cool and crisp, and mornings beautifully frosty.  I am busy with our New Year’s Eve Houseparty, lots of fun and chatter, and in between times I am still blowing and raking up cascades of fallen leaves..

It’s really beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

It might not be snowing, indeed it has been sunny all day here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, but the mood in Umbria is decidedly Christmassy.

The roadside houses are  festooned with multicoloured lights, the ancient narrow streets in the Umbrian hill top villages and towns are decorated with lights, shops filled with colourful seasonal displays  and talk of who is doing what for the holidays.

One of the delights of Italy are the traditions, the wonderful winter markets, where you find an abundance of craft items and of course excellent local foods and produce.  Down narrow lanes old creaking garage doors normally firmly shut and bolted are now open revealing extensive nativity scenes.

In Gubbio our local town they really get into the Christmas spirit.  A whole ‘quartiere’ of the city has been taken back in time several centuries and the streets are re-created as they were many many years ago, it is eerily like stepping back in H G Wells’s Time Machine, lifesize figures hug the walls,stoop over cooking pots or shepherd animals,  and of course the “World’s Largest Christmas Tree’ burns brightly on the hillside dominating the town.  Prime Minister Monti turned it on, let us hope that he or someone economically sensible is still here to do the same thing next year!

Gubbio, the 'World's Largest Christmas Tree'Here at Bellaugello I have been cooking madly, and of course ‘feeding’ the Christmas cake with liberal doses of whisky.  In between times I have been taking advantage of our wood fired Finnish dry Sauna and working up a real sweat.  Tomorrow I am off to find Christmas trees and start decorating the house ready for the festive season. I brought several decorations back from my travels to Sweden, they look great here and with my already extensive collection of decorations the house will look superb.

What fun we are going to have! [subscribe2]