Royal re­treats

Two Ro­ma­nian guest houses tra­di­tion­ally re­stored by HRH

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents - Francesca Syz 1. THE PRINCE OF WALES HOUSE Dou­bles from £80 (cas­aprint­ulde­wales.ro). 2. ZALAN VAL­LEY Dou­bles from £105 per per­son, full board, in­clud­ing three-course meals and wine, guided tours and ac­tiv­i­ties (zalan. tran­syl­va­ni­an­cas­tle.com)

The Prince’s Tran­syl­va­nian con­nec­tion

A FUNNY THING hap­pens at about 7pm in the south­ern Tran­syl­va­nian vil­lage of Vis­cri. The main street is sud­denly flooded with an­i­mals – cows, goats, sheep, horses, don­keys – hus­tling, bustling, chat­ting and jostling each other as they re­turn home af­ter a day spent graz­ing in the sur­round­ing com­mon land. And then each peels off to its owner’s house.

This tra­di­tional spec­ta­cle no doubt de­lighted the Prince of Wales when he first vis­ited this re­mote vil­lage in the foothills of the Carpathian Moun­tains in 1998. The area was al­most en­tirely in­hab­ited by Saxon Ro­ma­ni­ans from the 12th cen­tury un­til the Ceauşescu regime col­lapsed in 1989, trig­ger­ing a mass ex­o­dus back to Ger­many – many homes were sim­ply aban­doned. To­day, the pop­u­la­tion is mainly Ro­ma­ni­ans and Ro­mas.

What re­ally struck the Prince was how ex­traor­di­nar­ily well pre­served the vil­lage was – paint­ings from the 13th and 14th cen­turies showed just how lit­tle this bu­colic scene had changed – and, af­ter buy­ing a home here in 2008, he re­stored it us­ing tra­di­tional lo­cal meth­ods. To demon­strate that her­itage is an as­set that can be tapped into sus­tain-a-lime-washed. bly, he opened it as a seven-bed­room guest house.

In 2015, he launched The Prince of Wales’s Foun­da­tion Ro­ma­nia, which aims to sup­port ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage preser­va­tion, farm­ing and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment here; his guest house, known sim­ply as The Prince of Wales House, is its head­quar­ters. The foun­da­tion’s work is timely in an area where, of 180 for­ti­fied churches (in­clud­ing an ex­tra­or­di­nary one in the mid­dle of Vis­cri it­self ), 80 have fallen be­yond re­pair in the past 20 years.

The Prince of Wales House dat­ing back to the 17th cen­tury, is cosy, com­fort­able and dec­o­rated in a sim­ple, ver­nac­u­lar Saxon style, each bed­room fur­nished with lo­cal an­tiques and tex­tiles. Like other houses in the vil­lage, ev­ery two years its façade must be freshly In the barn is a café and lec­ture room (cour­ses for Ro­ma­ni­ans in tra­di­tional crafts and ru­ral skills are held at dif­fer­ent times dur­ing the year). Guests spend time walk­ing in the hills – you can find 250 types of wild flower no longer found any­where else – ex­plor­ing an­cient vil­lages and churches. All the food served is what the lo­cals eat (try the wild-boar salami), of­ten with a twist – slow-cooked Man­gal­itza pig with choco­late, cele­riac mash with black truf­fles. And there is ex­cel­lent lo­cal wine.

In 2012, the Prince bought a sec­ond prop­erty in the even more re­mote Zalán Val­ley, which is also run as a guest house, with seven rooms in three cot­tages. In a tiny vil­lage in the moun­tains, sur­rounded by thick for­est, still in­hab­ited by brown bears is where he comes to re­ally get away from it all.

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The Prince of Wales House in Vis­cri was bought in 2008 and re­stored us­ing lo­cal meth­ods 1

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