Pecica, the Romanian town known as Romanian dictator’s bakery turns to tourism

In the communist Romania, the traditionally baked bread was transported over half of the country several times a week from the commune of Pecica in the western county of Arad to capital city Bucharest to be served on the table of the dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu.

Twenty-four years after the revolution, locals are still proud of their product, the result of a special recipe and a specific way of baking, in an oven made of handmade burned bricks.

“Pita de Pecica” (the popular name of the Pecica bread) has a thick, crunchy crust that keeps its taste and makes it possible to be kept and consumed for days.

In the attempt to transform its famous product into a brand, the town administration obtained, at the end of 2011, a trademark certificate for the product.

Mayor Petru Antal now says he wants to use the brand to attract tourists to the town located halfway between Arad City and the Romanian-Hungarian border.

His strategy includes presenting architectural monuments from Pecica and the surroundings (including one of the oldest orthodox monasteries in the country, Hodoş-Bodrog), local traditions, the neighboring Mureş Floodplain Natural Park and the buffalo farm built a year ago.

Pecica and the Hungarian city Mórahalom implemented a project called FENNREHAB within the Hungary-Romania Cross-Border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013 “to realize the environmental rehabilitation of cross-border protected wetland through the naturalization of water buffalos”.

The Hungarian town (situated 108 kilometers from Pecica) is a popular tourist destination thanks to its thermal baths and buffalo reservation set up in 2008 and could help Pecica on the hard road to fame.

Their second cross border project, ECOREHAB2 ended just a few days ago, with the inauguration of a Visitor Center at the buffalo farm.

In a town where most of the public buildings were built in the early 1900s, the futuristic construction, which resembles a flying saucer or a ship, captured public attention.

Claudiu Ionescu, the architect who designed it says it is an “ecobuilding” and the first virtual museum located on a buffalo farm in Romania. The main concept was to integrate the building into nature as much as possible.

The grassed roof has the role to replace the natural area occupied by the building, while the insulation of the building is meant to reduce energy consumption; rainwater is collected and used in the bathroom.

The center is equipped with touch screen monitors, 3D projectors, an interactive bicycle that generates energy for a screen which runs the aerial view of the Mureş Floodplain Natural Park and a traditional oven where the local bread can be prepared.

As a symbol of the ecological side of the project, one of the interior walls is entirely covered with ferns.

Although tourists are a rare presence in the town with a population of nearly 12,000, local officials are optimistic.

They plan to build a thermal bath in the coming years and even receiving a promise of help from the former Tourism Minister, Elena Udrea, before the change of government.

Oil drilling in the mid 1980’s found thermal water at the outskirts of the town, just a stone’s throw from the newly built Visitor Center and the well is still waiting to be used.

Every weekend during summer dozens of people from Pecica are spending their time and money in Hungary, instead of paying for the same services in their town.

Officials say the quality of the water is the same as in neighboring Hungarian towns, which had known how to use it and built baths since the 80’s.

by Paul Sinka, guest writer, editor-in-chief of regional news website