The natural, spontaneous and never phony hospitality and warmness of the hosts are the key elements of the atmosphere experienced when staying in a Serbian village. A tourist will not be made to feel like an outsider in any village in Serbia; he or she will be accepted by the host like a close relative and dear guest whose every wish is to be fulfilled. Around every corner warmth, smiles, consideration and affection await the tourist, something which is hard to find in other countries.
Serbian villages are ecological oases; free from the pollution of modern civilisation, they have a mild climate, clean air and healthy foods. The ingredients which the hosts use to prepare food in a traditional and healthy way come from their own property and the tourist can be secure in the knowledge that the vegetables and animals are grown and raised naturally.
The smells, sounds and tastes of a village are what make it more special, more beautiful and more pleasant than the city. From Vojvodina in the north, through the western, central and eastern regions, to southern Serbia, the individual details vary, but the life-rhythm of villages all over Serbia is the rhythm of nature: the coming and going of the seasons, the transition from the working day to the restful night, the natural order of things and people.
Village tourism is not limited to tourists simply staying in village households. It also entails trips to surrounding areas, visiting the natural attractions and cultural and historical sights of the region, traditional folklore and events put on for tourists, outdoor sports and recreation and buying crafts, handmade items and souvenirs, as well as homemade food and drink.
A traditional welcome to a Serbian village house involves the serving of bite-sized pieces of warm pogača (home-made bread) dipped in salt. Next up is slatko (a sweet preserve) made from local fruit or a helping of honey with a glass of chilled, spring water, while a drink to your health is done with local rakija (Serbian brandy) or wine. The guest and the host will then get to know each other, asking after each other’s health and family over a cold starter of sir (cottage cheese), kajmak (kaymak – similar to clotted cream), šunka (ham) or pršut (proscuttio – cured ham). A lunch consisting of dishes made to regional, traditional recipes has an extra special ingredient – the care and love which the hostess puts into preparing her food.
The guest will let the host know if he or she wants to be a classic tourist or if they would prefer an active holiday, where they will learn about the everyday life and work of the village. Guests can help their hosts with the daily housework, in the field or in taking care of livestock, but it is by no means obligatory to do so. For tourist, staying in a village, surrounded by nature means the chance to go for walks through meadows and forests, visit nearby caves, springs and waterfalls, to go hunting and fishing, horse riding and hiking or picking forest fruit and medicinal plants, as well as to enjoy the folk customs, games and songs of the region.
Village households furnish their guestrooms in line with regional traditions and individual preferences for beauty, warmth, taste and comfort. Sleeping on wooden beds with feather pillows, in painted rooms with ćilim (rugs) on the walls, guarantees a sound sleep. In the morning, just before waking up, the roosters will remind you that you are in the village. Next you will hear the sound of water being brought up from the well – the best kind of water for your morning wash. The docile cows in the barn have already provided fresh milk for breakfast, and are now peacefully chewing hay. Sheep, goats, pigs, cows and horses – you can feed and pet them throughout the day or even take them out to graze on the nearby meadows.
And when you head back home, you can take with you a jar of domestic honey, a little ham or prosciutto, a small tub of cheese or kajmak, a bottle of rakija or young wine or a jar of spicy ajvar (pepper and aubergine relish) amongst other treats.
INFOVillage Tourism of Serbia www.selo.co.rs