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Introducing Spasskoe-Lutovinovo

Here is the forest. Shadow and silence. Stately poplars whisper high above your head; the long, hanging birch-branches hardly stir…The small golden voice of the robin rings out in its innocent, prattling joy…

Ivan Turgenev, from A Sportsman's Sketches

Surrounded by lovely countryside, the manor of 19th-century novelist Ivan Turgenev is a splendid place to pay homage to one of Russia's great writers. In addition to the museum (48646-57 214; guided tour R50; grounds only R15; 10am-6pm), you'll also get a chance to absorb the bucolic setting that inspired the master himself.

Turgenev, born in Oryol in 1818, grew up at his family's estate here, which was originally given to the family by Ivan the Terrible. Though he spent much of his life in Moscow, St Petersburg, Germany and France, Turgenev thought of Spasskoe- Lutovinovo as his home and returned here many times. The beauty of the estate makes this easy to understand. Turgenev was exiled here from St Petersburg in 1852-53 as a result of his work A Sportsman's Sketches. He completed his most famous novel, Fathers and Sons, at Spasskoe-Lutovinovo.

The main house, restored in the 1970s, contains a good bit of original furniture, some of the writer's personal items and a substantial percentage of his books, which will give you an idea of his astonishing linguistic abilities. There's an icon hanging in Turgenev's study that was given to the family by Ivan the Terrible, and the chessboard is set ready to play (Turgenev was a masterful player). The entrance to the house was formerly the kitchen.

Also on the grounds is the family church, which has been restored and holds regular services. The big oak tree planted as a sapling by Turgenev and the writer's 'exile house', where he lived in 1852-53, are just away from the main house. Behind the house are paths through the idyllic forest that skirt several lakes - where Turgenev set out on his long hunting expeditions.

Outside the estate, descendants of the peasant serfs who once belonged to the Turgenevs still live and work on tiny farms. There is a flower-bedecked WWII memor- ial among their homes, a five-minute walk to the right as you exit the estate.