Pitesti, a Romanian Detroit
The Romanian city of Pitesti is easy comparable with Detroit. Based mainly on the automotive industry it was bad hit by the major crisis in this branch. But we must nevertheless keep the right proportion, as Pitesti only counts nowadays 150 000 inhabitants, registering 10 % decrease within the last decade.
Pitesti enjoyed during the 50's an unexpected international publicity. In the local jail people from Pitesti the feared Securitate (Romanian Secret Service) ran one of the darkest page in the contemporary history of Romania. Namely, the prisoners should mutually torture each other, reporting directly to the head Nicolschi the progress made on the right path! Known as the Experiment Pitesti, has been documented in many books, and I would mention and recommend as a good one this specific title written by Paul Goma. He succeeded to escape alive and emigrated later, but many people lost their lives or their minds there.
|The St George Church from Pitesti has a strange beauty, inside and outside|
But not all the local history is so dark, on the contrary. On the hills surrounding Pitesti there are many orchards and vineyards (Stefanesti is the best renowned all over Romania). The local plum brandy "Tuica de Pitesti" is turning to a national and international brand. A local legendary football player, namely Nicolae Dobrin, had a soft spot for it. Another prominent with his origin in Pitesti is the former Romanian dictator during WWII Ion Antonescu.
A few centuries ago the city was surrounded by thick oak forests. The huge Trivale park is a wonderful remnant and visiting it is really relaxing. It is exceptionally well kept, stretching on impressive 30 hectares (60 acres for the Americans). You can even find a stadium and a Zoo there.
|Mayoralty from Pitesti, only one piece from the interesting downtown|
During Middle Age Pitesti was shortly a Royal residence of Wallachia. Very close to it, thus easy reachable through short trips, are other former Capitals, e.g. Targoviste, Curtea de Arges and Campulung. Pitesti has been hosting for centuries the residence of Bratianu family, prominent liberal leaders. The communist regime used and then brutally destroyed their manors, and even demolished a church build by the Bratianu family unfortunately.
But Pitesti still has many things to offer to any tourist coming in the area. The wonderful St George church is the first recommendation I can make. It is really wonderful, inside and outside. City Museum documents the long history of the city, starting with the Paleolithic age. Much later, at 1450 the city was for the first time mentioned in writing, as an important trade hub.
If you visit Pitesti in the Spring, and are lucky enough, you can catch the unbelievable local festival "Simfonia Lalelelor" ( or Tulip Symphony), which is really spectacular, much beyond you can imagine.