About 35kms southeast of Sighet, a horrendous track leads west to Poienile Izei, where you’ll find dead-quiet village life, with a beautiful backdrop, paradoxically bulls-eyed by a church with the most dramatic frescoes of hell you are ever likely to encounter. The thatched roof church was built in 1604. Its interior, Australian Aboriginal-style paintings and frescoes, dating from 1783, have a depiction of hell symbolized by a ferocious bird waiting to swallow up sinners and the torments inflicted by the devil on sinners who fail to live a righteous life.
To visit, ask for the key at the priest’s house – a large wooden house in the center of the village with an ornately carved terrace. If you got the time for obscure wandering, four kilometers further north along the same dirt track is the village of Glod, the birthplace of the popular Maramures folksinging duo, the Petreus Brothers.
A word of warning; getting here from anywhere is a long, rough trip, even with a good car, and the priest is often out running errands, meaning there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll hear the Romanian Leave Me Alone Mantra from whoever you beseech for information, “Come back tomorrow”. In lieu of these details, I’d recommend that you considering spending the night in Poienile Izei, not only so you’re not denied the grand prize of seeing the church frescoes, but also this is one of those Maramures countryside settings that you’ll be telling your friends about for years, so why not soak it up for a night?
There are rooms for rent at La Donita (Tel. +40 (0) 262 334 383; house No 135; per person 9.50 euro), who speaks French and does excellent home-cooking.