Most head for Bucovina during the relatively warm months, between April and September, or during the winter holidays when it’s covered in snow. In April or even in May it is best to take an extra sweater with you, because the weather can be windy, with temperatures around 9-15° C. The summers can be very hot, but usually the temperatures are lower than in other parts of Romania, due to the mountains and hills. At this time of the year all the monasteries are full of flowers in bloom. Even the autumn months could be a good time to travel to enjoy the turning colours of the wooded hills. During winter the cold can be quite intense, especially in the northern part of Bucovina, so you should come prepared. If you plan your trip by yourself and you want to go during the high season, it is better to book the hotel rooms two or even three months before your arrival.
Not to be confused with the more commonly found tuica, which is a mere 40% proof, this version of the traditional local plum brandy whups you with a staggering 60-80% (it's double distilled).
Imbibe with caution from miniature beer mugs before, during and after meals. Try not to finish the bottle because it will be swiftly replaced - this is the Balkans, don't forget.
On every table, especially the local 'pension' style guesthouses.
Bucovina is well known throughout the world for its painted monasteries. The churches were founded, in most cases, as family burial places of princes and high nobles. Each painter, although following the canonical iconographic program, interpreted the scenes in a slightly different way. The scenes were first painted on the interior walls, and then extended to the exterior ones. The reasons for such vast scenes were both religious and didactic: to promote Orthodoxy and to educate the illiterate.
The most interesting monasteries and churches in the Bucovina area are: Probota, St. John the New, St. Demetrius and St. Elijah in Suceava, Dragomirna, Patrauti, Parhauti, Slatina, Rasca, Baia, Dolhestii Mari, Sucevita, Arbore, Putna, Balinesti, Humor, Voronet and Moldovita.
Most of these churches have frescoes covering both their facades and their interior walls, and several of them have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
See pictures, maps and detailed information about each monastery: www.romanianmonasteries.org/allchurches.html
Centred around the chapel, every inch of the mediaeval building’s surface is clad in biblical scenes. It’s as if students of Giotto had fallen on hard times and turned to exterior decorating.
On the west wall, rows of saints stare at you from their backdrop of Voronet's very own specially-named shade of blue like a holy crowd of football supporters. Next to this, a Dantesque scene of hell leaps out at you as sinners tread the path to iniquity borne on the tongue of the devil himself.
Inside, the serious-but-benevolent features of Christ stare down at you from every corner, and all is quiet but for the murmurings of prayer. Nothing is left bare, with every surface decorated in gold leaf. Even the monks are covered, dressed from head to toe in deep black robes topped with a black pillbox cap and with just the pink of their cheeks and foreheads peeping out from above shaggy beards.
Not the easiest place to get to, your best bet may be to check with the Romanian tourist board: see www.turism.ro/english/addresses.php
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