The good old days of Iaşi city

For those of you who feel a little too grounded in the present and almost always with an eye to the future, let your imagination fly back into the past for a minute, to a place shrouded in mistery and beauty. Imagine a city that never sleeps, full of life and elegance, and its inhabitants walking arm in arm on the street, enjoying the last rays of the sun. In case this image does not ring a bell, let me tell you that the name you are looking for is Iaşi or, as its habitants use to call it,  the city of seven hills.

The year is 1840.  The city of Iaşi is gently stretching on the back of a long hill, puts its belt on the Bahlui river and extends to the Tătăraşi slum, where the city stops suddenly, near a deep ravine. Piles of white and fancy houses are scattered here and there, surrounded by green meadows, gardens, trees, and over the ridge, a thicket of trees controls everything.

Iaşi is a huge mixture of massive and elegant buildings, palaces and hovels surrounded by enormous courtyards, rich luxury, Parisian toilets, cheerful, genuine and tough faces all dressed as for a masquerade.

On one side, you can see the Lipovani, old wandering sectarians from Russia. They are tall people, wild in appearance and they have kept their posture, composed mainly of a large blouse and some trousers called ,,Cossack pants”. They are coachmen, gardeners or masons and have the habit of drinking a lot.

A little further on the street, you can find the Armenian, the true child of the Orient, serious and silent as a Turk, with his feet crossed on the stand.  He wrinkle his long nose as the rain clouds become more threatening, lies down on his old couch and continues to sell turkish tobacco in a peaceful way.

Across the road, you can almost hear the German master, working hard on a pair of shoes and sipping occasionally from a bottle of beer. He seems bored now and takes great pleasure in  greeting the passersby with words like ,,good morning my lord” or ,,God bless you, your highness!”
All these people, speak their own language (Greek, German, Russian) and at the same time, they give color to the city, enriching it and giving it an unique aura. Imagine the mixture of all these races, nations, castes, with their local color, mottled suits and their particular morals, meeting and greeting each other on the streets, or clutching their hands in a room without wonder or curiosity.

Going forward in the pace of carriages we arrive in Copou, the theater where the young ones debut in the world, lying in an elegant carriage, with the usual cigarette glued on the lips, with the hand elegantly resting on the stick. It is a great opportunity for them to show the others the new coat bought from the best tailor in Paris or the new Viennesse hat brought from distant lands. Copou it is also the arena in which the ladies, big and small, young and old, ugly or beautiful compete in their elegant and sparkling outfits.

It is a city full of life and color; on the big alley (known today as the Ştefan cel Mare you can see is Greek groceries, caviar barrels of all kind, Lisa sardines, olives, fish in brine or smoked, foreign cheese, boxes with Grignano macaroni and dates of all size and shapes.

This is the city of Iaşi from another time, cheerful and full of life, with honest luxury and pure poverty. This is the city with high buildings and quiet habitants, with an elegant air that makes you think you are close to perfection. This are the good old days of Iaşi city.

Written by Alexandra Antonia Amarandei


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