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BukovinaSurrounded by mountains and bathed in crystalline waters, Bukovina is a delightful land, blessed with splendid landscapes, charming stories and genuine peasants. On the sunny hills and the smooth valleys from among the long mountain crests, typical Moldavian villages spread, which keep the ancient traditions and crafts. Bukovina has a special charm which wins you over from the first visit. Whether you are impressed with the simple life of the people in Bukovina, ordered by the traditions inherited from the elders, or you are lured by the smell of the 'colaci' (braided bread) or the freshly oven baked bread, or you simply wish to discover the spiritual values of this place, a trip in the north of the country is a journey into your own soul.

Bukovina equally means the setting for the wild nature in the Rarӑu Mountains, with the superb view of the Pietrele Doamnei Reservation, the secular forests of the Giumalӑu, the salty air in Cacica Mine, the ride with the Mocӑniţa steam train, the lordly residence of ruler Stephen the Great, the monasteries and the painted churches. Apart from these, you will discover the colors of this rural universe, folk music and dancing, you will taste delicious traditional dishes and have a unique experience, revealing new surprises at each step.

BukovinaTourist Layovers in Obcinele Bucovinei

The smooth and arched hills, the rich forests and bright glades full of grasslands turn Obcinele Bucovinei into a land of mystery. The BistriÅ£a runs its course here, glowing in the sun, hiding trouts, graylings and huchens. On the trails of the crests you can find a sheepfold here and there, announced by the cheerful clink of the sheep’s bells or by the barking of the dogs watching them. If you get close, you will savor the tastiest milk and the best cheese with polenta; maybe you will even hear a shepherd’s story.

Bukovina has seductive scents to bathe you in and to convince you to stay in this beautiful land. Spring smells like cherry tree and blossoming apple tree, intertwined with the delicate aroma of the lilac. In summer you can smell the freshly cut hay and the rains cooling the dry land. With the coming of autumn, Bukovina’s perfume takes the scent of baked pears, pumpkins, nuts and steamy pies. In winter, the smell of the burning fire in the stove will please your senses, along with the scent of the fir trees and the cozonac (Romanian sweet bread). On the alleyways of the villages you will find that each holiday and each tradition kept in this corner of the country has its own smell and specific charm.

Bukovina Village MuseumThe tourist eager to discover the most important attractions of this area is invited to make a layover in Suceava, at the Lordly Residence (Cetatea de Scaun). Built in the 14th century during the rule of Petru I MuÅŸat, the fortress knew its glory under voivode Stephen the Great. Now restored, the monument offers a faithful image of the whole-hearted work put in to build this mighty edifice. From the height of its walls, the view opens over the bright green of the surrounding forests, beyond which you can see the city. In the immediate proximity there is the Bukovina Village Museum, where you can admire the architecture of the houses in Bukovina, a wooden church and a water mill. Furthermore, you will find clay plates and pots, objects sculpted in wood, traditional costumes, jams, syrups and pies baked in the people’s households.

In the museum, the traditional crafts of this area are presented; you will discover the secrets of pottery or woodworking and you will see the dedication and care with which the housewives dye eggs. At Rӑdӑuţi, in the Ethnographic Museum, wool fabrics spun at the loom are exhibited, along with spinners, pieces of furniture, a pottery wheel and a kiln for burning ceramic dishes. The authentic traditions of the villages in Bukovina are skillfully reproduced in the city and so the traveler has the chance know firsthand the values of this land between the long mountain crests.

Dyeing eggsA very attractive place in this part of the country is CiocÓ‘neÅŸti commune, declared a museum commune in 2004. At the middle of the past century a fairy tale house appeared here. Madam Leonora wanted a household that would make the neighbors turn their heads. Appreciating beauty and being skilled at spinning and dyeing, she decorated the walls of her house with the models and colors characteristic for the peasants’ shirts and the Easter eggs. From then on, all the buildings in CiocÓ‘neÅŸti, including the city hall and the stores are dyed and the fences are decorated with beautiful wooden sculptures.

Painted monasteriesNorthern Moldavia preserves an unaltered world, which greets you with an atmosphere of inner peace and humbleness. The monasteries and the painted churches, halidoms of a rich history and special architecture, famous for their uniqueness and beauty, represent real spiritual and cultural treasures. Located in a wonderful natural setting, protected by hills and forests, and taken care of by nuns and monks, they have their doors open for anyone looking for an oasis of quietness and introspection. Putna is the first monastery founded by ruler Stephen the Great and is situated in an extremely picturesque area, at the heart of the wild nature. It impresses with the greatness of the fortified walls, but also with the harmony it exhales. At Arbore you will discover the remarkable art of portrait drawing, amazingly presented in frescoes, and at Humor you will be amazed by the exterior painting of one of the most valuable churches in Moldavia. In the meticulously taken care of halidoms you will find lodgings and you will be able to taste wonderful monastery dishes. Here, you will find simple but elegant cells at the windows of which vigorous plants grow and a perfect peace propitious for meditation.  On your trip to Bukovina, don’t forget to visit VoroneÅ£ monastery, famous for its remarkable frescoes painted in a unique shade of blue.

BukovinaVillage Life in Bukovina

In Bukovina, life follows its course according to the old traditions and customs passed on from the elders. The people are welcoming and hard-working, the houses are warm and inviting, the orchards - scented, and the alleyways quiver under the steps of cheerful children. In the villages they still play the flute and the round-dance during holidays. Women weave carpets at the loom, they knit woolen socks and sew shirts they then proudly wear. Men do the hard chores in the household and spend the whole day on the field. On Sundays, the villagers dress in traditional costumes and go to church to listen to the sermon. Faith is alive and strong in Bukovina, functioning as the unseen bond between the members of the community. 

The holidays throughout the year are celebrated in a characteristic way, differently from those in other parts of the country. For instance, on Christmas Eve, men clean the stoves’ chimneys and throw the soot in the orchard, as fertilizer. Meanwhile, the women prepare a rich meal, cooking 12 fasting dishes: fish or peas broth, boiled porcini, honey sweetened wheat, dried fruits, doughnuts, compote, etc. Groups of young people carol the households of the village, and in return receive nuts, apples, colaci and money. The New Year is celebrated with the games of the masked carolers; in Bukovina, people have a traditional procession with a decorated plough called the PluguÅŸor, or other masked games, such as the bear’s or the goat’s game, involving music and dancing. All these customs have a symbolic significance. According to the superstition, by following these ancient traditions, people gain health and vitality, while the year to come will present itself as rich and prosperous.  

Life in BukovinaThe entire village participates in the important events taking place in the life of a person who lives in Bukovina, thus demonstrating the solidarity in the rural areas and the support to be found in the community. On holidays, villagers wear traditional costumes, beautifully sewn and carefully embroidered. A woman’s costume traditionally consists of a shirt called 'ie', decorated with floral and geometrical motifs, a leather vest coated with wool on the inside called 'bundiÅ£Ó‘', a long skirt called 'catrinÅ£Ó‘' that she ties around her waist with a wide, braided belt. For their feet, women have peasant sandals called 'opinci' tied with leather or woolen lacings, while on their heads they wear silk head scarves. A man’s costume is made of a linen or hemp fiber shirt tied around the waist with a broad girdle ('chimir'); the long white trousers are called 'iÅ£ari'. In winter, the costume adds a woolen knee-deep coat ('suman') or a long leather coat ('cojoc'). Traditional costumes are passed on from parents or grandparents and are sometimes more than 100 years old, carrying with them life stories and a special sentimental value.

Household in BukovinaIn Bukovina, life is mainly connected to the household, where the peasant orders his own universe. In the north of Romania, a traditional household includes the main house, a summer kitchen, a stable for animals, a hay barn, and a storage barn. The surrounding land is cultivated so as to answer the daily needs of the family. Near the gate you will find a well, shared by the people of Bukovina with their neighbors and thirsty travelers. The houses are decorated with popular motifs, the pillars and beams are sculpted, and the windows have colored framings. You will see new and imposing houses, or simple ones, but they all evoke the archaic atmosphere of the rural world in Bukovina.

The Ancient Occupations of the People Living in Bukovina

Dyed Eggs MuseumThe ancient crafts in Bukovina are passed on to the young generations to preserve the bond with the past and with the history of these places. Some of the occupations are specific for the area and they are presented at fairs and in museums. A very old and extremely appreciated tradition in Moldavia is the dyeing of eggs. Any kind of egg, smaller or bigger, is manually painted with paint and wax; others are decorated with beads. Artisans create unique models, depending on their inspiration, but using traditional motifs with significations in the popular culture. You often see the cross, the clover, the life line, the wagon wheel, wheat ears or bees. They symbolize the faith in God, health, luck, prosperity and happiness. You can admire impressive collections of works of art at the Egg Museum in Vama and the Dyed Eggs Museum in Moldoviţa.

Marginea black potteryMarginea Commune is known for the black ceramic in Bukovina. The villagers here work in clay, out of which they make decorative objects, vessels for keeping the wine or milk, pots and plates to prepare and serve the food. The small lump of clay is modeled on the wheel, dried, burnt in the oven, then polished and decorated with geometric shapes. At the workshops in Marginea you can observe the fascinating art of pottery and you can buy souvenirs to remind you of the skill and handiness of the people of Bukovina.

The women occupy their time with weaving, using loom stands. The carpets, the rushnyks, the towels and embroidered fabrics are used to decorate the house and play a role in the important events taking place in the life of the village. Painting icons on glass and wood, making traditional masks or woodworking are other crafts which have resisted throughout time, proof of the mastery of the people in Bukovina.

Bukovina is a charming corner of heaven, full of history and traditions, a land unaltered by the present day modernity. The rich forests, the bright groves and the wide grasslands lying under the sun rays create unique and surprising sceneries which please the eye. The haystacks dotted about, the merry clink of bells on the hills, the wagons which break the silence on the alleyways, the wells with their cold, clear water, they all seem taken out of a fairy tale told by our grandparents. Simple, welcoming and cheerful people, the Moldavians are ready to share the legends of the place anytime and offer you a bit of their inner wealth. Travel to Bukovina and you will fall in love with this picturesque land and its authentic traditions!

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]