The New Bella Mattina

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

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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