Hedgerows, alive with sparrows and wagtails, line the narrow road winding through Văratec to the pretty nuns’ village and Mănăstirea Văratec (Văratec monastery), its whitewashed walls and balconies enclosing a lovely garden shaded by cedars. The novices inhabit two-storey buildings named after saints, while the older nuns live in cottages. Văratec was founded in the eighteenth century, around a church that no longer exists; the site of its altar is marked by a pond with a statue of an angel. The present church, built in 1808, is plain and simple, culminating in two bell-shaped domes. To cope with the harsh winters, the nuns have sensibly installed stoves by the columns dividing the narthex from the nave, so that both chambers are heated. The gilt pulpit and the gallery over the entrance to the narthex are unusual, but the interior painting is not great. There’s a museum of icons to the south, and an embroidery school established by Queen Marie in 1934. It’s an odd but not unfitting site for the grave of Veronica Micle, the poet loved by Eminescu, who couldn’t afford to marry her after the death of her despised husband; she killed herself two months after Eminescu’s death.