Vadu Izei, at the confluence of the Iza and Mara Rivers, 6km south of Sighetu Marmatiei, is arguably Maramures‘ best base and resource for rural homestays and tours. It also has a museum in the oldest house in the village (1750). You’ll find that time-warp buzz you’ve been looking for when you get a load of how little has changed since the 18th century – including the state of indoor plumbing. Rural villages are made up of thatched roofed homes, giant wooden church steeples, ‘pot trees’ (on which cooking pots are hung to dry) and wooden gates outside every home. Traditional crafts are still practiced by wood carvers, blanket weavers and glass painters and there’s ample opportunity for you to join in.
Vadu Izei has been supported since the early 1990s by the Belgian charity Opération Villages Roumains, which originally started out as an international pressure group against Ceausescu. More recently, the village gained financial backing from the European Union’s Phare program to develop infrastructure.
In mid-July Vadu Izei and the neighboring villages of Botiza and Ieud host the Maramuzical Festival, a lively four-day international folk music festival.
Casa Muntean (Tel. +40 (0) 262 330 091) or Pensiunea Ardelean (Tel. +40 (0) 262 330 616) arrange excellent guided tours in French or English with options such as picnics, wood-carving and/or icon-painting workshops. A full day tour ranges between 24 and 47 euros.