Maramureș – an area far away from everything we know, but for so long on the list of the most desired Romanian experiences. The first visit to the land of wood made us understand that spirituality and tradition are interconnected, that we will keep and love the authenticity as long as we remain close to God, religion being perhaps among the few truths that still brings man close to the essence. Here we discovered a wonderful wood civilization, faith expressed in so many ways, good, authentic, honest people, a connection between everything linked to the earth and what belongs to heaven. And besides all these, the immense desire for change, contemporaneity and modernism.
We started our trip in Maramureș at Căsuța din Scobai, in Vadu Izei, on the banks of Mara River. The property surrounded by water and forest, from here the name ”scobai”, is the family story of beautiful people in love with the land on which they live, combining woodwork with crafts, gardening, collecting old objects, preserving and passing traditions, receiving guests, celebrating the simple things and joys.
The colorful pots from the trees, the fountain, the wooden gate and wheels, the fork
At the guesthouse in colorful Maramureș you can find two 100 years old houses, saved from nearby villages, transported by water and rebuilt here. Authentic details, old wood, reborn with the story of the place, bright colors, flowers in the yard and at the windows. The small houses take you into a childhood story, when everything was much smaller. The simple rooms, but filled with the warmth of the past, made us enjoy once again what already exists inside us. In the courtyard, surrounded by a wooden fence, we discover details that belong to the place: a tree with colored pots (sign of family wealth), the fountain (symbol of life, youth and immortality), the wooden gate (reason of pride for a family and household ), the wooden wheels (symbol of the cyclical rhythm of life) and the beautiful spinning fork, the voice of Maramureș, rendered at a much larger size. In the garden we talk by the fire, then we simply experience the charm of the place on the porch, in the sun or in the wooden swing. Everything is a story at Căsuța din Scobai, a break from time and a return to the world. Also here we find out that in the area the customs of the ancestors are still preserved, on Sundays or on holidays the villagers proudly wearing their traditional costumes: shirts, sumna and the traditional opinci as shoes. They all go to church together, looking like this.
We did not dine at Căsuța de Scobai. However, the hosts can organize breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone’s taste, with a prior announcement. Wanting to take the pulse of the local gastronomy and appreciating the popularity of the dishes here, we served dinner at Casa Iurca, a traditional restaurant in Sighetu Marmației, where we enjoyed traditional snacks, bean soup in bread and a nice goulash. At Căsuța din Scobai, however, you can cook your own meals, the guesthouse having a fully equipped kitchen.
Sapanta Peri Monastery, the tallest wooden construction in Europe
The famous Maramureș impresses with the wooden churches and monasteries, museums, natural beauties or popular sights such as the Merry Cemetery, Mocănița and the Village Museum. 25 km away from Căsuța din Scobai, the famous Merry Cemetery from Săpânța is the only place in the world where death is seen and interpreted in a relaxed way, even funny, the people of Maramureș doing this since ancient times, through funny inscriptions and written life stories on the cross of each tomb. Then, 55 km away from the guesthouse you will find Mocăniţa on Vaser Valley. The train goes up to Paltin station (km 21.6), about two hours from Vişeu de Sus. The monasteries of Maramureș are also a living proof of the wood civilization developed here, for example Săpânța-Peri Monastery, the tallest wooden construction in Europe (78 m), with 36 species of trees around and over 1000 secular trees, some over 300 years old and Bârsana Monastery with an entire monastic ensemble built here, located on Valea Izei, in historical Maramureș, all the constructions being made of oak wood and river stones.
Going back in time. In a world that seems to have remained intact in certain parts of the country, with the help of people and faith religion continues to be an important thing that keeps people connected to each other, but also to history, authenticity and values. We are happy for every place that preserves or recreates the charm of the Romanian life of yesterday, the country being so diverse while crossing the four cardinal points. Căsuța din Scobai is indeed an experience; but a simple one, so close to meaning, to what we need in order to better understand, to stop a little from the rhythm, to appreciate what a culture of wood, tradition and faith has to offer to all of us.
Căsuța din Scobai, Vadu Izei, Maramureș County