Radauti, Marginea and Vama
Radauti (rah-dah-oots) is a lovely market town with a smattering of quaint attractions, the star of which being Bogdana Monastery, A.K.A. Saint Nicolas Church, built by Bogdan I in the mid-14th century, making it the oldest church in Moldavia. The interior frescos look as if they haven’t been touched up since Bogdan flung open the doors, but therein lies some of its charm. The church holds the decorative tombs of Moldavian rulers Bogdan I, Latcu, Roman Musat and Stefan I.
Piata Unirii is dominated by an ambitious, multi-domed cathedral. Across the street is the surprisingly extensive Museum of Bucovina Folk Techniques, Moldavia’s oldest ethnographic museum, with over 1,000 exhibits in 11 exhibition halls, highlighting pottery, for which the region is famous. The adjoining workshop of ceramic artist Florin Colibaba will likely spasm one’s impulse-buy muscles.
Nine kilometres west of Radauti is Marginea. The tiny village is renowned for its black earthenware and pottery, a custom dating back to the Neolithic Age. AF Magopat Gheorghe is a small shop, with an adjacent exhibit of locally produced pottery, black and otherwise. Visitors are often invited into the pottery workshop next door that shows how the stuff is made. This area is also a pleasure to explore by bike, as each village has its own charm.
Finally Vama, about 40kms south of Marginea, quite frankly has nothing to offer, but intimate insight into village life. It also benefits from one of the best pensions in the area, Letitia Orsvischi Pension, where one can quietly lounge for a few days, being fed well and enjoying Letitia’s painted eggs and tiny ethnographic museum. Assuming you have your own transport, is this also a potential base for seeing the Painted Monasteries.