Locally owned | Ioan-Cristian Bica
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
Honey & brightly coloured icon paintings
Truly sustainable tourism in villages like Copșa Mare supplements income from farming: It does not replace it. To sustain a way of life and the landscape here, visitors should try to spend their money with local producers such as Ioan-Cristian Bica.
If God had given us eight days in a week, Ioan would have made good use of the extra day.
When not looking after members of his congregation, Copşa Mare's Orthodox priest, who settled in the village twelve years ago and speaks fluent English, is taking care of his own young family together with eighty families of bees.
"The congregation is small and cannot fully support me & my family, so I must work at other things. Under Ceaușescu, it was said that a man with 50 families of bees could earn enough money to build himself a house in just three years. Not these days!"
Ioan collects a large quantity of honey from his bees, although today this requires him to move the bees around the country in search of early blossom:
"We used to get three harvests from each hive a year here in the village. Nowadays, we are lucky to get two because of the overgrazing of sheep. So I pack up the hives in the bee wagon at the end of April and take my bees south. Not this year of course!"
In the colder months, Ioan-Cristian makes simple wooden animal toys and paints icons on glass in striking, bold colours. He taught himself to paint and, quite exceptionally, uses oils, which take an age to dry but do not deterioate. Toys, honey and icons are all for sale, either in the market square in Biertan, or directly from Ioan in the village.
Find out more about those families in the area offering accommodation, as well as good things to eat, drink and do.