Introducing Southern Bucovina
'Southern' Bucovina is located in Romania's very north – testimony to a long history of division. In 1775, the Austro-Hungarian Empire annexed Moldavia, keeping it until 1918, when Bucovina was returned to Romania. However, the Soviets annexed Northern Bucovina in 1940, incorporating it into the Ukraine.
Another historic aspect – the legacy of Prince Ştefan cel Mare and later successor Petru Rares – has endowed Southern Bucovina with several spectacular monasteries. The best of these fortified structures, painted both inside and out with exquisitely detailed frescoes in almost otherworldly tones, are also Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Bucolic Bucovina is dotted with slant-roofed village houses and lovely groves of beech trees (indeed, the name 'Bucovina' comes from the German word for beech). As in Maramureş, you'll encounter old women in colourful traditional dress, fearless children riding bareback on horses, and enterprising locals scouring the forest for some truly massive mushrooms. It's an ornery place, and both public transport and foreign languages can be lacking, but Bucovina is nevertheless highly worthwhile for hill walks, cycling, rural idylls and, of course, the unforgettable monasteries.