Between Giuleşti and Berbeşti a road leads east up the Cosău valley, the most interesting of all in Maramureş. Just 2km southeast of Fereşti (where the wooden church was raised in the 1790s) is tranquil little CORNEŞTI, where the church (painted in 1775) dates in part from 1406, making it the second oldest in Maramureş; there’s a watermill here, beside which women beat clothes with carved wooden laundry bats by the river, often improvising songs and verses as they work, using a distinctive local technique called singing “with knots” (cu noduri), in which the voice is modulated by tapping the glottis while the singer doesn’t breathe for lengthy periods.
Continuing south, you come to three villages about 4km apart, with two wooden churches apiece. At sprawling CĂLINEŞTI, the beautiful Susani (Upper) or Băndreni church, high above the road just north of the junction, was built and painted in the 1780s. The Josani (Lower) or Caieni church, built in 1628, is one of the loveliest in Maramureş, with its huge nineteenth-century porch and beautiful internal paintings by Ponehalski. It’s best reached by the path across the fields next to house no. 385, on the road east to Bârsana. There are also wooden vâltoare or whirlpools (used for giving woollen blankets back their loft) and horincă stills at nos. 96 and 129.
SÂRBI has two unassuming little wooden churches – the Susani to the north, built in 1638 and painted by Ponehalski in 1760, with icons by Radu Munteanu and a beautifully carved door frame; and the Josani, to the south, built in 1703 – and some fine examples of traditional technology. At no. 181 you can visit a fine watermill, two fulling mills, a vâltoare (whirlpool) and a horincă still, as well as various workshops; it’s signposted as “Ansamblul de arhitectură tehnică populară” and is now rather over-touristy, with a new bar – better to stop immediately north at no. 173, where the family are happy to show you their fulling mill, vâltoare and still, as well as the loom in the house. There’s also a maker of opinci (sandals) at no. 143, at the village’s south end.
Finally, BUDEŞTI is a large village but remarkably unspoiled, with even its new houses largely built in the traditional style. In the centre, the Josani church, built in 1643, contains the chain-mail coat of the outlaw Pintea the Brave. Its frescoes are among Alexandru Ponehalski’s finest, especially the Last Judgement. The Susani church, dating from 1586, has particularly fine paintings from the 1760s, also by Ponehalski, and has been gradually extended westwards, so that the tower is now almost central.