The fortified church of Viscri is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Viscri is a village in Transylvania and is situated 40 kilometres from lovely Sighisoara. To get there you quit the main road (DN13/E60) in Bunesti, and then drive on a paved road until you get to Viscri. You won’t regret it ! I promise you !
Viscri is a small village with 500 inhabitants. 27 of them are of Saxons ancestry. So is inspirational Caroline Fernolend, whom I heard speaking at the International Conference on Integrated Quality Management in Tourism Destinations, organised by Autoritatea Națională pentru Turism and UNTWO in Bucharest in June.
What struck me when listening to her was her contagious enthusiasm and willingness to work hard and succeed, in combination for her love for the Romanian countryside and its’ rich culture, traditions and way of living.
– Caroline, you are truly one of those people I’d vote for President !
What did she talk about then ?
She told us the story about the successful Whole Village Project, under the Mihai Eminescu Trust. It started in 1999 with the objectives to rejuvinate the village with historic preservation of both buildings and traditional way of living, leading to self sustainability and taking people out of social benefits, taking most of them on the paths of being entrepreneurs. At the home page you can read the following :
In this village alone we have undertaken 180 restorations, mended cattle troughs, re-cobbled roads, planted trees and provided a school bus. We have built stables for horse trekking and converted buildings into guesthouses. Most ambitious of all, with money-raising help of Prince Charles, who bought one of our restored houses in the village, we have installed an ecological sanitation scheme which today is becoming a model for others to follow. In 2001 we expanded our reach west of Sighisoara to a further 5 villages around Malancrav, which is evolving towards a similar level of self- sufficiency as Viscri.
Here, in addition to an extensive programme of restoration, the Trust acquired and presently manages an ancient 266-acre apple orchard, generating income and employment from the only organic apple juice in Romania. Close beside the orchard stands the romantic Apafi Manor. The Manor is run by two Malancrav villagers who, seven years previously, had emigrated to Germany but, homesick, had come back with their two children.
When I arrived to Viscri , with a group of foreign journalists, we were met by Caroline and her big smile. She took us to her own home, where she offered us some of her and her husband’s homemade drinks : socata ( elderflower cordial ) , apple juice, wine and tuica.
I spontaneously exclaimed : Asta e Romania ! This is Romania !
Hospitality is one of the traits that I always put as the number one feature when meeting Romanians and spending time with friends in Romania.
Here you can read more : Romanian Hospitality by Yvette Larsson
I strongly believe that the Village, as such, is one of the top 3 areas that is undeveloped within tourism in Romania or should I say, have huge potential !
I believe that rural tourism, where the traveler get to meet the life in a Romanian village has great value for a traveler to Romania and can also be just the reason to invite a foreign traveler to Romania !
Caroline and her community leads with example.
They have managed to create a strong village life with the inhabitants becoming entrepreneurs , by offering travellers services such as bed and breakfast, food, stories, handicraft and so forth.
World wide, many people are stressed out and lead rushed lives.
Coming, not only to Viscri, but to the Romanian village, is soothing the soul.
It gives peace, it reconnects us to our humanity, it reminds us how good it is for the eye to look at natural surroundings, how healthy it is to eat natural food, how proud we feel when when we wear clothes made by a woman from the village. The Romanian village embraces us with a morning when the rooster wakes us up, or an evening spent listening to real music, singing and dancing. Authentic community life is found in the Romanian village and it is a richness that Romania has and can promote within the area of tourism.
Tourism is changing in its kind – many of us don’t want to sit in a bus with 40 people. Instead we wish to connect, small scale, with other people on the globe through things that are common for us all ; share a meal, laugh, sing , dance , music, natural experiences , adventures and so forth.
Here are two newly launched pages if you are interested in
Love, Yvette Larsson
Founder of The Bucharest Lounge and several other FB pages about Romania.