Occasional tourism. What Vârful lui Roman–Horezu looks like, the mountain resort through which the wind whistles VIDEO

In 2005, Horezu was included in the category of resorts of local interest thanks to the Vârful lui Roman Holiday Village. In 2021, the Capital of Traditional Popular Ceramics became a resort of national interest. However, it only works seasonally.

On the bare peaks of the Căpățănii Mountains, approximately 15 km away from Horezu – Vâlcea and 55 km by road from Rânca – Gorj, there is silence, too much silence for a mountain resort of national interest, at the beginning of spring. It was the same all winter, with the locks on the accommodation units.

After years in a row, the place was effectively stormed by tourists eager to go to the mountains close to home, now it has entered a shadow cone. Now it seems like an abandoned place, with new construction and motley architecture.

Anomaly – ski resort closed in winter

Horezu is the fifth and most recent of the resorts of national interest in Vâlcea County, which also includes six other resorts of local interest. The area, however, is far too far from what it was expected to be in its early days.

The story of the resort began in the 2000s, when it was hoped that with European funds, the foundations of mountain tourism in the Căpățănii Mountains would be laid on different criteria than Rânca, the Gorje resort located west of Vârful lui Roman, not even 30 kilometers away in a straight line.

That is, they wanted to avoid administrative mistakes, starting with the development of utilities and then with the tourist infrastructure. The bare hills were parceled out into over 1,000 lots and offered to those interested on the condition that they build guesthouses, cottages, holiday homes, hotels, etc. But, after almost two decades, as can be seen with the naked eye (SEE PHOTO VIDEO GALLERY)it was not even built to a quarter of its potential.

As for utilities, it was only at the end of last year that the Minister of Energy, Sebastian Burduja, announced that he had signed the financing contract for the expansion of the electrical distribution network in the Vârful lui Roman – Izvoarele Pleșei area. The contract provides for the granting of state aid of over 37.4 million lei out of the 57.8 million required. You can't even talk about sewage, asphalt, running water, gas.

The fact is that excessive bureaucracy, lack of vision, meaningless investments and design mistakes have turned an excellent initiative into a colossal waste of money.

The luxury ski area, a dream

For a while, Vârful lui Roman enjoyed interest, even an attempt was made to establish a ski area here, and there was talk of building five-star hotels, of countless foreign investments…

The aim was to turn the area into a luxury ski resort, with 50 km of slopes, and there was even talk of a university campus, spa, casino. It was planned to be the second ski area in Vâlcea, after Transalpina-Voineasa – the slopes with the most beautiful view in the country.

Practically, in 2018, a slope was even inaugurated, at an altitude of 1,600 meters, approximately 700 meters long and 50 meters wide. A line of ski lifts was installed and the first snow cannons were brought. And because electricity was missing, electric generators and solar panels were also installed. It was expected that, in a maximum of three years, five more slopes with a total length of over three kilometers would be opened, reaching up to an elevation of 2,100 meters. It was planned that the resort would be united with what the neighboring commune, Vaideeni, intended to build on Vârful Ursu.

He even dreamed of the day when Vârful lui Roman, Vârful lui Ursu, Rânca and Transalpina Voineasa would become a unitary whole, on one side and on the other of the Căpățănii – Parâng – Lotrului – Latoriței mountains.

It's just that none of this happened anymore, rather everything was stopped, the activity suspended and the works abandoned. The developer left when he realized he was losing money. The local public authorities could not offer any excuse.

Axis over the mountain

Only the elected officials' promises remain, among which the most recent one concerns the construction of a link over the mountain. Recently, the county administration has announced that it has started the steps to take over the access road to the resort, often impassable in winter, and turn it into a county road, in order to rehabilitate and modernize the area and create a north-south axis: Malaia – Vârful to Roman – Horezu Vâlcea. Malaia is located on the Lotrului Valley and DN7A, the road that connects the Oltului Valley to the Jiului Gorge, but also to the Transalpina Voineasa ski area, as well as the highest mountain road in our country – Transalpina.

Another promise stipulates that from this spring a cable installation will be installed, extending the existing one, but even so, skiers still have to wait, as even the head of the local public administration admitted, who also claimed that this is not it will only be possible when the tourist infrastructure is sufficiently developed. Until then, only sledding is possible in the area.

It is also true that for three or four years in a row, at the top of the mountain, real traffic jams were created, until the world understood that apart from the landscapes, the possibility of getting stuck in the winter, or the dozens of cabins, villas and guesthouses that operate seasonally and by reservation only, the place offers nothing more. Not even a space in which to serve a coffee or a sandwich, so that you can quietly enjoy the superb panorama.

Desert and snow, at the beginning of spring. The blizzard whistles its damage…

At the beginning of spring 2024, I found the accommodation units closed and not a single person. Almost no one dares to climb the mountain in the cold season, on the forest road, which presents an anomaly for about two kilometers, towards the entrance to the resort, it is asphalted. The rest is dirt road.

Tourists often complain about the poor condition of this access road that starts from the village of Romanii de Sus and passes by a Romani Trout. To get here, however, you have to leave the national road DN67, Râmnicu Vâlcea – Târgu Jiu, and choose the route that leads to the Hurezi Monastery included in the UNESCO World Heritage.

Before the holy place, the road forks. In winter, as the pension owners admit and even draw attention to, you can't go up the mountain, and sometimes even when heavy precipitation falls, only with a four-wheel drive car, and in the cold season with anti-skid chains. And during the rest of the year, connoisseurs do not recommend drivers with low wheelbase cars or street tires to venture into this area, due to the extremely sharp stones on the section.

At the beginning of spring, the road was passable, only the paved portion being covered with snow. As well as part of the roads in the resort, and another part covered with mud, resulting from the melting of the snow.

Even at the Vârful lui Roman Monastery, probably the place of worship located at the highest altitude in our country (elevation 1,700 m), I didn't come across anyone, even though it was open. Later, we would find out that the whole complex, built more than a decade ago, is still looked after only by the priest who serves in the church.

A community of nuns lived at the monastery only in the first years, then they left driven out by the terrible winters and the much too difficult life on the top of the mountain.

Three years ago, at the end of March, at Vârful lui Roman the slush exceeded 2.5 meters high. The winter of 2020 – 2021 was also the richest in precipitation in recent years.

Now, however, the resort seemed deserted, partially covered by snow.

However, for the Easter holidays, which include May 1st this year, there is no longer any accommodation available on the top of the mountain on the Booking platform, which means that all accommodation units will be full.