Since we returned from New Zealand it’s been all go catching up with family and friends but finally it was time to move on to our next little adventure. Another Helpx beckoned, this time near Perugia in Central Italy.
Remind us again, what is Helpx?
Okay, well Helpx is a website that allows volunteers (like us) to stay and work with people in exchange for food and lodging. Typically the volunteers work 4 hours a day for 5 days a week. We’ve done a few of these in the UK already (Fedging Helpx Adventures in Thelnetham, Pitlochry Aberfeldy and Foss, and Hard Labour on the Isle of Eye) but this would be the first we had tried overseas.
After our night at the Hampton by Hilton Hotel at Stansted we boarded our Ryanair flight bound for Perugia. Mustn’t say too much about Ryanair as it’s difficult not to be negative especially with their new ‘extra cabin bag’ ticket. It just seems like they are trying to fleece you at every stage but the flight was okay and got us there so I guess I shouldn’t complain.
Arrival at Perugia
On arrival we collected our bags and prepared for another of those travelling moments that we love. It’s when we are just about to meet someone that we will be staying with and in Italy we were being met by our host-to-be Gilly. We would be staying with her and her husband Gordon in their house just outside Umbertide for a few weeks and helping them out with a few jobs. Whatever they needed doing.
So Umbertide is a small town in the province of Perugia in the region of Umbria in central Italy. Founded in the 10th century as Fratta it was renamed in 1863 in honour of the Crown Prince Umberto. Gordon and Gillys place is a few miles out of town near the village of Montecastelli.
Every Italian house seems to have a fabulous name and theirs is no different. Casa Baldelli sits in the middle of olive groves and woodland on the edge of a hill with views far across Umbria. They obviously have a house but also a couple of apartments that they rent out to visitors in the summer months, The whole estate is beautifully kept and we were both exited and grateful to be able to stay in such a beautiful location.
It wasn’t just the four of us living here though, there were another couple of potentially more important members of the family. Two lovely friendly dogs called Vinnie and Lady made us more than welcome and it wasn’t too long before we realised who really ran the roost here.
Some serious decorating
Our initial work here was decorating the smaller apartment. It’s high vaulted ceilings and stone walls looked amazing but needed a bit of TLC before the summer started. So lots of wood-staining, preparation, emulsioning etc kept us busy all week long. It was especially tough as the super-high ceilings meant I had to get up on a scaffold tower to do everything. Real tough work all week but we were rewarded each day with some incredibly good meals from Gilly and spent many hours relaxing and socialising in the evening as we all got to know one another more and more.
Our first week here has also included a couple of morning walks with Vinnie and Lady right up to the top of the hill and along the ridge. The weather hasn’t been that great so far so it’s fairly muddy still but we’ve brought our boots and heavy coats so not a problem at all. It was great to meet their friends Sally and Simon out walking their own dogs and also get to know Gary the Builder during the week.
Time for a Pizza
At the end of our first week Gilly and Gordon very kindly offered to take us out for dinner and we spent the evening with them and their friends David and Jude at a local pizza restaurant. A few glasses of wine and a couple of fine Bavarian beers washed down the best pizzas we’ve had in ages. I went for the ‘Mountain of Meat‘ (my name not theirs) and Jo very bravely chose the ‘Surprise Pizza‘. No idea what was on that but it looked more than ok.
Hopefully the weather will brighten and dry up a bit now as it would be great to be able to sit outside after work has finished or even go for a few more walks. We’re still working on the apartment this week with more wood-staining and lots of painting but it should be done in a few more days. Gordon and Gilly are off gallivanting at the weekend so we’re housesitting for the dynamic duo of Vinnie and Lady which should be great.
Arrivederci alla prossima.
05/03 – 12/03/2018