The Sunny Side of the Carpathians Tour
Frequently overlooked regions lying in the shade of well trodden trails often hide exceptional encounters and great experiences. It is the case of the villages, hamlets and towns on the Southern slope of the Carpathians, in North Oltenia. A place where art, both in its peasant and cultivated form, has blossomed into a myriad of forms, from the local architecture to the several monasteries up the hills, from richly decorated pottery to mouth watering dishes and fast beat traditional music. And all that in a region providing fast access towards Romania’s
highest paved road, the Transalpina, reaching 2200 m. in Urdele Pass. Tune in to celebrated Maria Tanase’s ‘Marioara de la Gorj’ and let us go!
Type: private tour, cultural tour
Distance: 2200km / 1367mi
Accommodation: 3-star hotels and superior B&Bs
Note: where mentioned, hotels and guesthouses are samples. They can be replaced with similar comfort ones according to availability and itinerary changes (if such changes are agreed upon).
As a private tour, this tour is available at any moment. We kindly inform you that you have to take in consideration the schedule of the sights included in the program and the official national vacations. Please, contact us for more details.
How large the group is?
Our groups are never larger than 7 people.
How can I book a tour?
You just send us an email, tell us which tour you want to book, the period and the number of people in your group.
How can I pay?
We will send you a secure payment link. You can use your card, Visa or MasterCard only.
Do all the rooms have private bathrooms?
Yes, all the time. We use only clean hotels or superior B&Bs.
Is a Schengen visa available in Romania and Bulgaria?
Yes, a Schengen visa can be available.
Past tense: Constantin Brancusi
Born in an Oltenian hamlet in 1876, Brancusi was one of the most influential sculptors of the early 20th century. What he started with tool carving back in his home village as a child, he carried on as a student in Bucharest, Munich and eventually Paris, starting a real revolution of the shape, while giving up on what he considered as unnecessary glitz of his contemporary mates. His art makes use of clean geometrical lines while showing both a close relationship with the raw material used, and fine, smart touches of representational art. He showed a particular interest in local mythology, folk tales and traditional art. His works are clean, fluid, as he meant to ‘revert to the basic shape’ while ‘differentiating the essential from the ephemeral’. In 1938 he set some of his large scale works in Targu Jiu: the Table of Silence, the Gate of the Kiss and the Endless Column.
‘There are idiots who define my work as abstract; yet what they call abstract is what is most realistic. What is real is not the appearance, but the idea, the essence of things.’
Present tense: Valentina Gheorghe
Gheorghe learnt her craft from the nuns at Tismana Monastery, as Oltenian rugs were initially only produced in monasteries. She has been making rugs on the loom for almost half a century, while following no pictures or printed designs, as she has learnt all traditional patterns by heart. She employs both wool and cotton for her rugs and gets her paints from natural sources she collects all by herself: wine, beet, onion leaves, coffee grounds, nettles, weeds and elder. Patterns include highly stylized floral or zoomorphic elements: flowers, the
tree of life, the peacock, the wheat ear, all in bright colours: red, blue, black or green.
Gheorghe currently teaches her craft to 30 girls in her village of residence, Balanesti.
‘I think I’ve completed a highway in a lifetime of rug-making. And I trust I still have the time to add a street to it.’
OF CARAVANSERAIS AND BYZANCE
– Arrival at Bucharest OTP Airport (recommended: morning flight in)
– Transfer to Bucharest and panoramic tour by car on the way
– Brief stop to see (from the outside, allow 1 hour for the inside visit) the 1906 Nicolae Minovici House, an excellent sample of mansion inspired by Brancoveanu art
– Optional: visit to the oldest house in town, the 1760 Casa Melic
– Walk in the Old Town, including the Oriental legacy around: Gabroveni Inn, the Lindentree Inn, Stavropoleos Church
– Optional: welcome dinner at the lively Hanul lui Manuc, an 1808 typical caravanserai still preserving its original purpose
Accommodation, 4* hotel set in a 1920 mansion
Prince of Wallachia from 1688 and 1714, Brancoveanu was an enlightened figure creating his own architectural style in a blend of Western baroque and Eastern structures, while having a personal take on loggias and porches.
– Transfer to Mogosoaia Palace and visit (the lakeside garden, the park, the palace grounds, without inside visit of the exhibition)
– Transfer to Targoviste
– Walk in the old town, visit to Stelea Monastery with its fine ceramic insertions and to the Voyevode Court, including the Sunset Tower
– Transfer on to Campulung Muscel
– Evening walk through the old residential part of town
Accommodation, 3* guesthouse set in an early 20th century merchant house just off the marketplace and featuring a great down-on-earth restaurant
OF FORTRESSES AND MOUNTAINS
– Transfer to Curtea de Arges
– Visit to the remains of the Voyevode Court and to the adjacent church
– Visit to the impressive Curtea de Arges Monastery and learning the legend linked to its erecting
– Optional (allow 4 hours for the ride there and back, respectively the many stairs up and down): detour to visit Vlad the Impaler’s Fortress perched on a cliff up in Fagaras Mountains
– Transfer on to Maldaresti
Accommodation in the restored, Maldar Mansion, set in Brancoveanu’s style
– Visit to the two Kulas of Maldaresti; some 300 year old and common around Oltenia back then, similar fortified houses could also be found all the way to rural Albania
– Transfer and visit to Hurezi Monastery set by Brancoveanu
– Exploring the pottery motifs and technique in Horezu, home of some of the most decorative pottery in Romania
Accommodation in the restored, Maldar Mansion, set in Brancoveanu’s style
BACK TO ORIGINAL SHAPE
– Transfer on to the 17th century Polovragi Monastery located at the mouth of the impressive homonymous gorges going up Capatanii Mountains
– Optional: detour to visit the Woman’s Cave (Ro. Pestera Muierii)
– Transfer on across fine countryside to Targu Jiu (detour possible via the higher, less trodden road)
– Walk around the old town and visit to the two parks hosting Constantin Brancusi’s works
– Optional: detour to Balanesti to visit Valentina Gheorghe’s workshop (upon availability)
Accommodation, small 3* hotel or guesthouse in the old town
OVER THE MOUNTAINS AND INTO THE EMPIRE
– Early start required
– Transfer to the 14th century Tismana Monastery, the oldest monastery in Wallachia
– Mehedinti Mountains crossing and drive down the scenic Cerna Valley into Herculane Spa, with waters renowned from the Roman times
– Drive into Timisoara via Caransebes and Lugoj
– Optional: dinner in a local restaurant down the main pedestrian
Accommodation, 3* or 4* guesthouse in a quiet, residential part of town
– Walking tour of Unirii, Libertatii and Operei squares
– Visit to the Baroque Palaces hosting the Corneliu Baba collection
– Visit to the Orthodox Cathedral
Transfer to Timisoara TSR Airport for the flight out
- Airport pick-up and drop-off (one per group)
- Transport by modern car
- Accommodation, 6 nights, 3* hotels and guesthouses
- Licensed English-speaking tour guide/driver
- Entrance fees to sites included in the program
- Road, bridge and ferry charges according to route
- Flight ticket
- Hotel extras (telephone, mini bar, etc)
- Other meals except breakfast
- Photographing or filming fees at the visited sites
- Travel insurance