Today’s feature looks at a new programme aimed at fostering agri-tourism.
In Romania, autumn ushers in images of storerooms filled with jars of pickled vegetables, jam and comfiture, and all sorts of other great tasting preserves that will see us through winter. Viewed as low season in tourist terms, autumn is nonetheless the best time for a holiday in the countryside.
To encourage the rediscovery of Romanian villages, the National Association for Rural, Ecologic and Cultural Tourism – ANTREC Romania, runs this early autumn a special programme called “Holidays in the Countryside,” in which various boarding houses from around the country enrol every year. We talked to Violeta Didilica, the manager of a guesthouse in the village of Ceahlău, Neamţ County, about their tourist offer.
“We have joined the ‘Holiday in the Countryside’ programme, organised and promoted by ANTREC. The best thing about our guesthouse is its location in a wonderful area, overlooking the Izvorul Muntelui Lake and Mount Ceahlău. Adding to this are, of course, our services: we provide accommodation, a meal plan in our restaurant, we have an outdoor sports court and an indoor sport and game area. Tourists can get involved in the local activities. We can take them to local sheepfolds to see how cheese is made and sample it. We can also take them hiking or walking. They get a taste of the quiet village life, with roosters crowing in the morning and everything.”
Depending on the amenities they offer, guesthouses in villages are rated as 2, 3, 4 or 5-star. But, regardless of your choice, you will be able to enjoy the peace of patriarchal life and sample traditional dishes cooked by the locals. Holidays in rural boarding houses do not exclusively address families, however. Many guesthouses also have facilities able to host workshops or team-building sessions.
“We cook traditional dishes, such as fish in fir-tree crust, which is specific to our area, particularly the smoked trout that we keep wrapped in fir-tree branches until it gets a special flavour. We also serve freshly delivered pot cheese and soft cheese and mutton pastrami, which are specific to the Neamt region. We offer 5-day packages with breakfast included for individual tourists and company employees on training courses. We have a conference room with wi-fi and all the necessary facilities for business seminars.”
Maramures is the perfect place for an autumn visit. Victoria Bernecaru, from the Association for Rural, Ecological and Cultural Tourism in Maramures:
“Everything is beautiful in autumn. Orchards are full of fruit, the forests are no longer green but red, yellow and rust coloured. You can find all these colours in the woollen fabrics painted by the women of Maramures. They use plants, tree bark and other natural substances to paint the fabrics. We teach our visitors how to paint their pullovers using these autumn colours. This is also the time when various jams are made, in particular quince jam, which is extremely tasty. Apple juice is also made around this time, and is a perfect accompaniment to traditional dishes. Our visitors can also learn how to cook such dishes from Maramures. In fact, all kinds of preserves are being made in preparation for the winter season. Our guests will be treated like family, and taught how to paint, cook and make their own winter clothes.”
No matter where you spend your holiday, whether in Transylvania, Maramures, Bukovina or Wallachia, you can always purchase authentic Romanian objects and products you can take back with you, from smoked sausage to pickles, honey, jam, home-made sweets, wine, bread and cheese to hand-crafted objects.