The New Bella Mattina

Address: 110 Beulahland Lane, Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, 25411    Reservation Line: 304-258-4037

Author: Ann Gallarano

Relishing that Good Water

 
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This February 25th – 28th, my hometown is hosting the 26th Annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting competition. It’s just one of the many quirky events that the tiny town holds throughout the year. Over a hundred competitors present their best tap and bottled waters in hopes of taking home the gold.

I should mention that the BEST IN THE WORLD honor is only awarded to tap waters, with entries from across the United States, Canada, and as far away as Thailand and New Zealand. The incumbent and 3 time winner, Hamilton, OH, is looking to hold onto the gold after toppling reigning champ, Emporia, KS.  I’m throwing my hat in with Berkeley Springs, WV municipal water, of course.

So why this enthusiasm for a water tasting, and not the classical choices of wine, bourbon, or microbrews? Well, it’s because I didn’t understand how good I had it until I left. My parents, owners of Bella Mattina B&B, have amazing well water. It’s cool, crisp, and clear. As water should be, yeah? Growing up, everyone had a favorite, clear swimming hole with obligatory rope swing along Sleepy Creek. The valley between the Cacapon and Sleepy Creek Mountains has a long history attracting people to its mineral springs. Just check out the Roman baths and modern spas that the town offers.

Living in the city has its countless perks, but not included in that list is its treated water that smells suspiciously like fish tank and tastes stale. I’ve tried filtering. I’ve tried double filtering. It’s potable, but not pleasurable to drink. Nothing seems to live up to that first sip of clean, cool water directly from the well at my parents’ bed and breakfast. Possibly I’m being nostalgic, but probably not.

Berkeley Springs, WV is only a 2 hour drive from both Washington, DC and Baltimore, great for weekend getaways. Dress attire for the water tasting competition, per the website, is “black tie / bib-overalls optional”.

Happy Hydrating!

*I may or may not have drunk straight from this hydrant as a kid.


100 Years of “Hay” Days

~ Renovating a century old, rustic barn with visions of romantic weddings and joyful celebrations. ~

Barn Sepia
This old guy is turning 100 years old. Once a hay barn and briefly our living quarters (ask Ann & Leo), this old guy’s got history. Now he’s the keeper of tools and half-formed projects. “It’s in the barn,” is Dad’s answer to anything from drill bits and rakes to legless chairs. This old guy, our resident centenarian with the best view of sunrise over Sleepy Creek Mountain, is starting to get some well-deserved tender, loving care.

We started renovating the stone foundation in late 2015 after so many guests and brides-to-be asked if they could rent the barn as a venue for weddings and parties. Currently, events are held on the lawn or at the farmhouse. The barn’s exposed interior beams and wide open spaces create a rustic feel that brings the joy of living in the country to parties. Just ask Leo about the stage he built for live music and the Memorial Weekend bashes he used to throw.

The snow dump from the last storm has slowed down work, but we’re steadily repairing our way from the ground to up to the tin roof. In all honesty though, I don’t mind the snow delay. It leaves more time for sledding.

 

Barn Wedding Lights Snow View Barn


January Spa Feast

January Spa Feast

It’s Spa Feast time again in Berkeley Springs, and January is the perfect time to relax in the historical healing baths. The warm water flows through the Berkeley Springs State Park 24/7 allowing visitors to dabble their toes no matter what the temperatures are outside.

Take advantage of our January Spa Feast and fully appreciate the healing effects of the famed warm springs.


Art in Berkeley Springs

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Matisse Wall Mural
Art is happening in Berkeley Springs this weekend. Join artists of all ages at the Ice House and be part of a community project making an indoor mural in the style of Matisse. Internationally acclaimed artist Patty Ray Avalon will be heading up the workshop. More information can be found at Engage Berkeley Springs. While you’re there don’t miss the dynamic Community Youth Art Extravaganza. These amazing works of art were done by students from the Morgan County schools and can be viewed in the main gallery.

 


A unique celebration

Berkeley Springs will be celebrating a unique and quirky historic site, George Washington’s bathtub. The weekend of March 20th through 22nd is devoted to food of the period, readings from Washington’s papers at the Museum of Berkeley Springs, and an invitation to be part of a Community-Art Making Workshop at the Ice House, home to Morgan County Arts Council.
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Curious who were the winners of the 25th International Water Tasting event held in Berkeley Springs on February 20th? Check out the story here.


Moveable Spa Feast

Moveable Spa Feast

January is Moveable Spa Feast in historical Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

Throughout the month Spas and Restaurants around town will be offering healing workshops and healthy eating. Visitors will have a menu of choices to feast on from ancient healing therapies to 21st century treatments.

Below is a list of spas and restaurants and their offerings:

January 9-11
Atasia Spa – complimentary sugar scrub for hands; warm paraffin dip

January 16-19
Berkeley Springs State Park – chance to win free treatments
Museum of the Berkeley Springs open/bathing and spa exhibits
Sunday – Free chat about history of bathing and bath houses in Berkeley Springs at the Museum of Berkeley Springs

January 23-25
Renaissance Spa at the Country Inn – free whirlpool w/massage; free paraffin dip w/facial or skin treatment

Awakening Holistic Center – alternative and holistic therapies talks, demonstrations and discounts on services
January 24th offers a day long feast of many types of healing modalities (check their website for schedule)

January 30-Feb. 1
Fairfax Coffee House, Panorama at the Peak and Tari’s Café will be offering healthy eating spa menus

The historical Bath House (1815-2015) in the center of Berkeley Springs is celebrating 200 years of bathing in the famous mineral water, the town’s most cherished natural resource. Exhibits and a talk on “taking the waters” is scheduled for January 18th at 2:00pm at the Museum of the Berkeley Springs.

If you’re not planning a trip to a tropical island to remove the wintry chill, indulge yourself in a Moveable Spa Feast by being part of a 200 year old tradition, and bathe in the warm, healing waters of Berkeley Springs