“It’s like stepping back in time.” How often have you heard this phrase? Probably plenty. But how often has is actually been true?
Well, in the rural villages of Romania, this phrase rings incredibly true — when you visit, you really do feel like you’ve done a time warp and been transported back at least a handful of decades, if not more.
Romanian countryside is amazing. The rural scenes of village life in Romania, hay meadows full of flowers and mown by hand, storks nesting on chimneys, a medieval agricultural system that still relies on horse power, cows coming home through the village street in the evenings to be milked.
The places of Transylvania echo with a past long forsaken in the west but which we remember through fairy tales and view with nostalgia. Many people in Romania are rich in values that really matter: family, community, tradition, self sufficiency, and above all a warmth, generosity and hospitality that makes visitors come back again and again. Slow-paced villages and gentle, welcoming people may also be the words that best describe the Maramures region in northwestern Romania. The land of wooden churches and traditions. It is considered one of the best preserved zones in Europe from the perspective of cultural anthropology and ethnography.
Centuries-old traditions are still alive in the rural areas of Maramures. People in the Romanian countryside still meet regularly to trade livestock, tools, seeds, grains and other agricultural products, as their ancestors did for hundreds of years. In late afternoon, old women sit outside their gates coaxing coarse wool onto spindles. Many still favor traditional dress, meaning white frounced blouses, striped woven panels covering full black skirts, headscarves and opinci, a sort of leather ballet slipper from which heavy yarn criss-crosses over thick socks.
On Sunday, such dress is practically de rigueur, even for little girls. Your hosts welcomes you and offer Romanian brandy, hot tea or some fresh milk from a nearby farm. The food you get is exclusive traditional cooking such as chicken soup, grilled meat, cheese, wine and brandy, and it is all coming from vineyards and farms located in the vicinity of your place of accommodation. The rooms are old-fashioned with decorations made by hardworking old women, and woolen floor mats with folk motifs. Sheep milking and cheese making is by hand, up in the summer sheepfolds. The unique richness of flowers and herbs in the grassland gives the cheese a special character. The cheese is transported down to the village by donkey or horse and cart once or twice a week. During the summer most families are found out in their haymeadows, scythe or rake in hand, making hay for winter feed for their cattle and sheep.
The romanian living human treasures are spread throughout the country, and their skills and area of expertise is as wide as it is diverse. From wood carving to egg painting or embroidery, these people have inherited their skills from their parents and grandparents. Their art, their skills and their stories are genuine and give a first hand introduction into the local culture.
Carved Wooden Gates
The local craftsmanship can be best observed in the monumental Maramures gates, guarding the entry to the houses. Supported by three columns, they feature traditional ornamental motifs, including the sun and the twisted rope – both symbols of life and continuity. Some of the most beautiful wooden gates are found in the villages of Vadu Izei, Desesti, Giulesti, Budesti, Sarbi, Barsana and Oncesti. The villages of Barsana and Oncesti have, perhaps, the greatest number of impressive gates.
As it has for hundreds of years, social life in Maramures continues to revolve around the village church.The Wooden Churches of Maramures – in Surdesti, Plopis, Rogoz, Ieud, Poeinile Izei, Barsana, Budesti and Desesti – have been recognized by UNESCO as some of the most important sites of world heritage. Unique in shape and ornamentation, they have characteristic high roofs and tall, narrow, pointed steeples, often collectively describer as ‘the Gothic style of Maramures.’
Here you can try activities like traditional jewelry making, (painted) eggs decoration, painting on glass, Romanian traditional dances, clay / pottery modeling, nature walks, traditional cooking classes, photography. Depending on your preferences, you can enjoy a wide range of activities for all ages in Rumanian countryside, make friends, have fun, learn new skills and help to preserve valuable mountain hay meadows and their plant, wildlife and traditions, discover the rustic ambiances, or surprise your family, friends, and guests with unique experiences of holidays in Romanian countryside.
Bucovina. The North-East region of Romania is very known for the outdoor painted monasteries and for the hospitality of its peoples. Among the most picturesque treasures of Romania are the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. Their painted exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, and heaven and hell. Deemed masterpieces of Byzantine art, these churches are one-of-a-kind architectural sites in Europe.
Far from being merely wall decorations, the murals represent complete cycles of religious murals. The purpose of the frescoes was to make the story of the Bible and the lives of the most important Orthodox saints known to villagers by the use of images. Their outstanding composition, elegant outline and harmonious colors blend perfectly with the surrounding landscape.
Bucovina stands out when looking for a quiet place to retreat, go fishing or discover long lost traditional crafts, away from the madness and crowd of the big cities. Nevertheless life in the countryside of Bucovina is simple, traditions are well kept and the people are very hospitable, greeting strangers with joy and offering them a place to sleep and eat.