Read it also in Italian
First question. Why did I go to Timisoara, Romania?
Answer 1 – This was a present. And you know, travel presents are the best of the best.
Answer 2 – I never was there and I never was in Romania, so this is more than a good reason.
Answer 3 – sooner or later I would have chosen this destination for the reason referred to in point 2 and because there is a direct flight from Bari with WizzAir (very cheap, ver than direct).
Let’s focus: What to do and what to see in Timisoara?
1 – Obviously, the first thing is the small historic city center.
Piața Victoriei (Victory Square) is in my opinion the most charming square of the city, home to the Opera House, impressive structure in which more than 800 people can sit and enjoy art. Small aside: not everyone in Timisoara have a clear idea of the impressive amount of people that work in this theatre.
The billboard is busy, it can be seen already from the entrance portal.
Opposite, across the square-boulevard with a central row of evergreen trees, the Orthodox cathedral.
I recently discovered that the Orthodox cathedrals have a great fascination for me.
Over than the gold, drapes and saints’ portraits, I like to observe their religion, very personal and intimate. Even the Orthodox rite of marriage is special, as I wrote in the semi-serious reportage on The Serbian Wedding, that inspired me so much to give life to a short story (for free, if you want you can download it;-)) .
Along the square-avenue that divides these two buildings, fine restaurants and small shops-stalls of street food (which is a point of which I will speak in a separate post).
From here, it is not difficult to get to Piața Uniri, the center of the historic district called Fabric.
(UPDATE: my mistake, one of my Romanian readers corrects me: Piata Unirii is not part of the Fabric, but is part of the Old Timisoara Fortress, was protected by Maria Theresia Bastion and Viena Gate (in the north).
The square is completely restored and the street lights at night make the setting even more romantic and chic.
Piața Traian has several local baroque structures, colorful buildings, benches arranged as if they dropped out of an airplane and the catholic cathedral.
Other interesting scenarios are the ones between Piata Unirii (“Unity Square”) and Romana Square Libertăţii. The first is the historic square of Timisoara and is home to the Roman-Catholic Cathedral, the Baroque Palace, the Serbian Orthodox Episcopal Cathedral, Casa Brück, the theoretical High School Nikolaus Lenau, the Holy Trinity Column (a gift from a merchant escaped to the plague – and who actually fled from the city – in 1700), the mineral water fountain.
Nearby, also the museum of the revolution, with free admission. A good way to understand what happened in those 7 days of the revolution of ’89 (a parish protest that in a few days transformed in the overthrow and execution of Ceausescu).
!!! First thing NOT to do !!!
If you walk into a pub, never ask for a 33 cl bottled beer. They just don’t have it. They only sell half-liter bottles. When I asked for a beer the idea of small or medium was not allowed. Only large.
I think a 33cl is not part of the local code of ethics of the drinker, and I welcome this.
2 – Go in winter
If you love the snowy and a bit ghostly scenarios, if you find the sweet and romantic periods of solitude without tourists and like to enjoy the beauty of a place that feels like yours alone, from January to March (-12 degrees) is the most suitable time to you. Though I have got away with a minimum of -7, but I brought my boy home.
!!! Second thing NOT to do: Go in winter!!!
For the reasons mentioned above. Moreover I strongly suspect that the spring and autumn colors are firy and lively, since the city is full of parks and urban green spaces.
3 – A city tour by tram
Another thing I recommend is to take one of those purple and white trams running throughout the city center and the Old Town. In Piata Libertati there is a bus stop that takes in all the most interesting areas.
4 – A visit to the village of Banat.
The museul satului banatean (The Village Museum of Banat) is an open-air museum, located northeast of the city (you can go by bus or by taxi at very low cost). This is the reconstruction of some fifty houses and farm buildings of the nineteenth century from different parts of the Banat region.
They are all so different since the architecture of each home is like those of the area of provenience of the inhabitants (Serbia, Germany, Latvia etc.).
The village is in a woods (Padura Verde, namely Green wood) and the houses are not just ‘reconstruction’ but real old houses. It is good to go when all the houses are open and can be visited and when the people in period dresses are in, to explain things or even just to show you how they used to live.
If you plan to go to Banat Museum, ask as a favor to the hotel reception to call the village (or call yourself… but do not expect great levels of English, perhaps it is better if you speak Italian) and ask if the Museum is open, if houses are open and if museum staff is active.
!!!Third thing to do: going there with smokers!!!
IMPORTANT UPDATE: smoking in closed private premises is not allowed anymore, so the following paragraph is just my old personal experience that you won’t live, if you visit Timisoara (and Romania) now.
At least … if you can’t stand the smoke in the public limited spaces. After this little dig at the smoker who was traveling with me (which, by the way, was too cool to bother him about smoking).
I’ll be serious. In Romania, as in a disproportionate number of places I visited, smoking is still allowed in the premises. There are some vacuums on the ceiling and they solve the problem this way. If you wear contact, then bring eyedrops with you everywhere, everytime.
If you carry around 500 grams of hair, lose the hopes of not stinking of smoke forever.
My second question is would I recommend Timisoara?
Yes, to those who have never been there for the reason mentioned in the first answer to the first question.
Maybe I’d rather choose spring and fall, because in some moments the cold and the wind really put to the test and because, as mentioned, it has to be very beautiful in the green of its foliage.
If you want more information on exchange, coin, cost level, where to sleep, write in the comments.