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Vevchani’s First Hotel Gears Up for Summer

May 23, 2006

By Christopher Deliso

It had to happen someday: a cozy place to stay in the endlessly appealing Macedonian village of Vevchani.

And, at only 20 euros for a room for two with breakfast, the Pensione Kutmicevica is an affordable option with traditional fixtures and bedspreads, as well as hearty Macedonian cuisine on the patio, which offers a lovely view of the village below as far as the corners of Lake Ohrid in the distance, stretching into the hills.

Just a couple of years ago, it was impossible to find such digs in the village. Visitors wishing to enjoy the winter carnival had to stay with friends, if they had them, or in Struga or Ohrid. Locals were still shy of private accommodation and only a few were taken in that way.

Now, however, the problem has been taken care of. The cozy restored home, dating from the early 19th century, allows visitors to get the full Vevchani experience. The pensione is located just down from a narrow street crossing the upper part of the village, a short walk from landmarks such as the mighty Vevchani Springs and the Church of St. Nikola (built in 1876), with its impressive collection of icons from Macedonia and Russia, a few dating back to the 18th century.

Vevchani is a friendly and singular place, where the sounds of rushing water and living children are heard everywhere, a place mellowed by years of semi-independence and originality (my article in the May 2006 issue of Hidden Europe magazine gives vivid examples of Vevchani flair, such as photos of its home-made passports and money). Red eggs at Easter and two-foot-long ceremonial church candles are only a couple of the other unique details to be found in this endlessly interesting village.


Vevchani’s celebrated springs are at their most torrential from March to May (photo: Christopher Deliso)

Owing to its location and rustic charm, the Kutmicevica Pensione provides a haven of tranquility for visitors looking to get away from it all for a few days. From the shaded patio, one enjoys the view and the invigorating mountain air, while the only sounds to be heard come from the occasional rooster or cat in the yards of old village homes below.

The pensione also offers excellent fare. After a day of hiking in the hills just above the village, a dinner of smoked ribs, sopska salata and nafura (grilled bread chunks topped with soft white cheese and spices topped off with a beer is just the thing for preserving the village equilibrium. At night, the sky above Vevchani is filled with stars and in cooler weather, the smell of wood-smoke from little chimneys that dot the village’s well-kept houses.

Owner Nasto Bogoeski, who describes the new pensione as a labor of love created out of a desire “to try something new,” thanks foreign cooperation from the World Bank, which gave $26,000 for the project, and Unibanka, which contributed 1,500 euros.

According to him, the little bed-and-breakfast has already got the thumbs-up from foreigners who have stayed there, such as the EU Representative in Macedonia, Erwan Fouere.

A growing interest in Macedonia as a destination for rural, village tourism has been detected in recent years. The addition of the new pensione in Vevchani is bound to increase the appeal of what is already perhaps Macedonia’s most promising rural hideaway. With clean, narrow streets, bubbling water everywhere, peaceful people and a combination of history, natural beauty – and now, accommodation – Vevchani continues to set an example for the rest of the country for the kind of sustainable, environmentally-friendly tourism that is Macedonia’s best bet for future tourism development.

Since the pensione only has two rooms, it is a good idea to book in advance, especially during the summer months and before the winter carnival (Jan. 13-14). Visitors wishing to book a room at the Pensione Kutmicevica, or find other information, can telephone owner Nasto Bogoeski at +389 46 798-399.

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