An explosion of the senses……….

This morning one of my neighbours who thankfully still farms in the time honoured fashion of traditional animal husbandry tumbled down the dirt road in his Apetto, those wonderous three wheel vehicles so evocative of rural Italy.

An ancient farm, lovingly tended, chickens and geese wandering freely, both summer and winter vegetable gardens, and best of all a small flock of sheep all resplendent with Shakespearean names wandering freely in organic pastures on the hillsides under the ancient olive trees.

Milking is still done by hand, and the milk becomes not only the lightest ricotta, perfect on its own or in a fluffy baked ricotta cake, but also one of the finest cheeses in the world – Pecorino, eaten fresh or ‘stagionato’ mature, perfect for grating over hand cut pasta or simply on its own with local honey.  My neighbour learnt his  cheese making skills from a Sardinian shepherd so the cheese is good, real good, and this morning in celebration of the Pecorino I opened a bottle of Sagrantino di Montefalco and in the heat of the late morning sun we sat and I got to taste the new season Pecorino – fragrant, soft, yet at the same time crumbly, delicate, moist, utterly scrumptious.

It was just a wee taste, I am so spoilt,  and fortunately  I have twisted said farmer’s arm and a limited amount of said Pecorino will be on the table for breakfast here for you guys staying here this spring at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.

Prosciutto Pecorino – lunch in Unbria

A quiet Sunday an excuse to leave Bellaugello Gay Guesthouse for a wee excursion in the Umbrian countryside. After the hot sun of yesterday today as I find myself in the beautiful town of Bevagna it is decidedly cool

We have feasted on prosciutto from nearby Norcia, pecorino from Umbria. Bruschetta with DOP olive oil from just down the road local Sagrantino from neighbouring Montefalco in the most delightful ambience – a tiny place I will most definately be recommending to you guys this year

And it is on the Sagrantino wine trail, What delights Umbria has to behold !



The main piazza and church in Bevagna Umbria italy
Time I think to check out the pasticceria!

Sunday walk on the hills behind Gubbio

The most glorious tranquil and still of mornings was rudely interrupted by good friends who were planning a hill walk and lunch in a restaurant near Gubbio – no way could I refuse, great company, great scenery, and the promise of a great lunch, so off I drove down the back drive from Bellaugello Gay Guest House to meet them at the junction of the lower road through Valdichiascio from where I took the first photograph, showing Bellaugello Gay B&B on the top right hand corner of the photograph near the ridge, commanding views over the Chiascio valley.

We then proceeded through the medieval town of Gubbio and climbed up behind the ancient walled city through the pine woods to the summit of Monte d’Ansciano which commands fine views over Gubbio, the valley west towards Perugia and to the north and east the snow capped summits of the Appenines.   We had all come dressed in thick winter gear, but within a few minutes were shedding layers and ended up in ‘T’ shirts as it was utterly beautiful and really quite warm.

The medieval town of Gubbio sitting at the foot of the hill with the ancient Roman Theatre visible in the large grassy park just above

Panorama of the Appenines from the summit of Monte d’Ansciano near Gubbio in Umbria

At the summit we came across a group of young priests who were soaking up the sun whilst on a retreat staying in the glorious  San Gerolamo abbbey which clings magically to the hillside between the summit and Gubbio 500 metres below, what a beautiful tranquil place for a retreat….  Heading down we drove through the Bottaccione gorge where we stopped at the Osteria del Bottaccione (one of my favourite eating places) where we feasted on local Eugubine specialites of locally cured prosciutto, pecorino cheeses with home made orange and pear jams, crostini with mouth-watering liver pate, bruschette, and juicy salamis, followed by a spinach and truffle risotto, then tender milk fed pork roasted on a bed of lentils, enough food for a month, oh but so good…

Pecorino and jungle

Sitting at my kitchen window tonight posting to my blog whilst drinking a wee glass of ‘Pecorino’ a delicious crisp white wine from the cantina of Bove we stock here at Bellaugello Gay Guesthouse, I am reminded that as well as an innkeeper I am also a farmer, and sheep (ok -‘pecore’) would serve me well after this spell of being unable to get into the garden or onto the land.

The past weeks and weeks of near continual rain in conjunction with seasonally warm weather has left me with hectares of grass to cut and trim here in the garden and round the house at Bellaugello Gay Guest House in Umbria.

Today the sun broke through – ok it did rain this evening, but not before I had time to get the strimmer out and commence the attack on the grass. Luckily I had managed to get some grass cut in a brief dry spell last week, but today I headed to the east of the house and was engulfed by vegetation almost shoulder height, it was tough going, but I did it, cutting swathes through dense growth and soppily leaving the poppies to flower, the red poppies look so wonderful swaying gently in the warm breeze.

Then to the vegetable garden, to be caught by one of the builders as I strimmed round the onions, potatoes and artichokes, not a very cool way to cultivate a vegetable garden, but I must get it cleaned as now, all be it late is time to plant tomatoes and courgettes ready for a bumper harvest this summer and to serve to guests here at my gay b&b in Umbria.

I do like sheep, but I think I will stick to innkeeping and leave sheep to my friend Martino who makes a wonderful handmade Pecorino cheese from his organic flock, and which can often be found here at Bellaugello, and goes remarkably well with Bove Pecorino white wine, much appreciated after a day of strimming!!

More social whorl

Out at dinner – what again I hear you say! Yes again.

This time at Marco’s house at the head of the valley.  It actually rained for a while this afternoon and for a bit looked as if dinner would be cancelled, but fortunately not.

We feasted on fresh picked corn on the cob roasted over the glowing embers of the barbecue, accompanied by a wonderful mature Pecorino brought by Valeria recently returned from a holiday at her house in Sardinia, a fine Sagrantino di Montefalco, prosciutto di Norcia, and of course Bruschetta with tomatoes from Marco’s orto.

Simple wholesome food, fine wines and great company that is Umbria…..