I met Mr. Neculai Popa, the son of the great popular artist and collector of ethnographic objects, Neculai Popa, on a beautiful May evening, in the courtyard of the Popamuseum ( Tarpeşti), with blooming apple trees and the spiced air filled with spring’s green fragrance.
I spent hours talking with Mr. Popa, accompanied by a glass of cold white wine, on the terrace in front of his parents’ house. A rustic environment of simple beauty, preserved in the traditional spirit of the area, an ensemble of tastefully restored peasant houses which have been transformed into an ethnographic museum.
Mr. Neculai Popa is a perfect host: an excellent discussion partner, a thoroughbred intellectual, a bohemian museographer, and of course, the person who manages this unique place in Romania through what it offers: ethnographic and cultural tourism, accommodation and breakfast in the few rooms of his parent’s house.
The guest house is furnished with a refinement that you would never think of discovering in a Romanian village: a true museum itself that seems almost unreal in our Digitized Age. The house has a splendid living room furnished with antique furniture and oil paintings with rich ornamented frames, a fireplace where you can make fire and the warm smell of Cordoba leather floating in the air.
The upstairs rooms are an eclectic blend of good taste – you almost feel sorry to step into the room thinking that you might disturb the spirits of the house with your presence. I was delighted by the room where I slept, a spacious room with white antique furniture, taped in a butter color brocade with delicate floral motifs, and a romantic wooden terrace overlooking the nearby hills.
In the morning, breakfast was served by Mr Popa himself, with his discreet presence and the elegance of a Romanian who lived in Belgium for over 20 years.
The host is also a charming guide that will walk you through time in his father’s museum, telling you the story of each ethnographic piece. The museum has a large collection of traditional objects and, of course, the special masks made by the great Popa artist. A museum worth visiting, walking on the top of your feet and with a great respect for such places.
A slice of pure-blood Romania, a live lesson of history and ethnography, a „different” kind of tourism and of course, the pleasure of discovering picturesque places and wonderful people.
You can come to the Popamuseum in Târpeşti if:
- You are Looking for something else when is about traditional tourism
- You have a wide-ranging culture (the host will walk you through the paintings of famous painters/ valuable art pieces and will give you many interesting references to history, art etc. If you are not so aware of some things you could feel stupid or just a phatetic interlocutor)
- You sincerely respect the Romanian folk art and appreciate the traditional Romanian village
- You are able to understand that you will practically be accommodated in the privacy of the house of some people and not in an ordinary pension.
- You manipulate carefully everything that is at your disposal and leave the room in an impeccable state out of respect for the host that has given you the opportunity to breathe the air of different century.
DO NOT come to Popamuseum in Târpeşti if:
- You are a fan of modern B&B, possibly with a swimming pool and barbecue in the yard
- You are the typical Romanian/foreign tourist, with spoiled brats that tear down everything they catch and the wife that dries your wet socks on the terrace
- You are an urban brat that wants “fun”, that is club, bar, restaurant (with some gipsy music eventually )
- You are an ignorant „with epaulettes” when it comes to art, numismatics, archeology, history, Romanian ethnography
That being said, Mr. Neculai Popa – the father and Mr. Neculai Popa – the son, will be the first Romanians who will open the section Romanian of the month.
© Ionela Chiru