Rose and raspberry sherbet in our winter collection of thrills
Bucovina, also known as the land of beech trees where tall, blonde, blue-eyed and kind-hearted people live, is the place where the earth keeps warm even in winter time and the dishes are refined to everyone’s liking.
Varatec Monastery is neither geographically nor historically part of Bucovina, but strongly linked to it by Orthodox heritage. In Romania, the monasteries are no usual convents, but quaint communities resembling old time villages, idyllically set on hilltops among wood sanctuaries. At Varatec, the nuns live in small farms and are more than happy to welcome you in one of their 150 years old houses.
Don’t take too long admiring the cozy low-ceiled rooms as the nuns prepare the fresh lunch. It is very likely to arrive during the fast before the Christmas celebration, but don’t worry, fasting meals at the monastery are indeed finger-licking and entirely homemade, even the bread.
After lunch, you might like to take a good nap or visit the scenic surroundings including the monastery, the laic village of Varatec and the forest nearby. Return to the house for dinner – if it’s on Saturday fish meals are allowed, then you ought to try the fish borsch.
You may join the Sunday service or one of the nuns as the best local guide to visit the nearby village of Humulesti, home of our dear storyteller, Ion Creanga. He is renowned for being the first Romanian author who collected and wrote folktales using the Moldavian regional speech more than 150 years ago.
On the way back, stop at Agapia Monastery for a lunch in the warm kitchen, perhaps a visit to the old church, but it is mandatory to return by horse sleigh, comfortably bundled in blankets. No insight about dinner, you shall be pleasantly surprised.
Have a short siesta admiring the apple orchard and the old huts, but soon after, get back on your way to explore Humor Monastery and the jewel of Bucovina: Voronet Monastery. The latter was built in 1488 by Stephan the Great, ruler of Moldavia to commemorate a victorious battle. The exterior paintings exhibit the bright, striking blue, a beauty among colors such as the Titian red. Go round the main church and you’ll be rather surprised to discover the northern wall has its unique paintings almost wiped out due to the north wind. Back at the guesthouse a superb dinner accompanied by a local folk music ensemble awaits you to heartily enjoy it.
Pass through the thick fortified walls and the original gate and once you’ve listened to the legend of Putna Monastery, visit the burial place of Stephan the Great, then lunch with the monks. Change the route to south and arrive before night fall at the village of Vama.
As its name says, Vama was a long time ago the border settlement separating Transylvania from Moldavia. Nowadays it is a beautiful village, mostly representative for the ancient craftsmanship of egg decoration. Accommodate in a traditional guesthouse and relish on the most exquisite dinner cooked exclusively in Bucovinean style while the lady of the house shares some of the local stories.
Treat yourself for lunch with another display of Bucovinean home cooking and later on travel back to the merry nuns of Varatec, eager to await you with hot bread and the best preserves from their pantry. Our tip is to ask for rose and raspberry sherbet as a dessert, you’ll be amazed.
We have a bag full of magical tales about Bucovina and we haven’t unrevealed it during autumn, yet. It seems your appetite on Bucovina’s marvels and thrills should be fed without hesitation with a longer holiday treat.