Although lacking specific ‘sights’, Ivanovka has a time-warp fascination: it’s one of the last remaining kolxoz (collective farms) to have survived from the Soviet era and even retains the CCCP rosette on its welcome sign. The population has a high percentage of blond-haired, blue-eyed Russians – mostly descendants of various puritanical protestant sects who had been effectively banished from Russia proper in the mid-19th century. Many houses also have a Russian look with red-tiled roofs and wooden uppers. Locals produce some of the country’s best cheeses, robust homemade wines (AZN5 per litre) and excellent honey. But come quickly: dissatisfaction with profit sharing and regional management has led to a steady economic migration to Russia. Much of Ivanovka’s attraction is staying at John & Tanya Howard’s Guesthouse, a wonderful homestay where five purpose-built rooms have bathroom, supercomfy beds, framed-lace decor and a shared kitchen room in the garden behind the traditional main house.
A taxi from İsmayıllı costs AZN5. Or take İsmayıllı–Mingəçevir buses for 5km and then a shared taxi (AZN1) for the last 6km, climbing through vast fields of sunflowers. If the haze clears, the horizon presents a wonderful mountain panorama en route.