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"Didactico - entertaining children's eco-trail", or Italian-style tourism near Bulgaria’s village of Madzhare

Photo: архив

The picturesque village of Mazhare in the Rila Mountain is about to acquire a new attraction. The construction of a children's educational eco-trail is forthcoming soon. For this purpose, wooden bridges over the river will be built, fallen trees and logs will be used to create recreation areas, etc. As the kids move along the route, they will get to know the nature of Rila and learn how to care for the mountain. The trail will be ready in the autumn of 2022 when the first student groups will be able to walk there. Of course, eco-tourists are also welcome.

The project "Didacticо - entertaining children's eco-trail" is financially supported by the municipality of Samokov. However, the initiative belongs entirely to the Italian entrepreneur Michele Crescentini – the owner of a donkey farm in Madzhare. "Madzhare is a very touristy place. In terms of nature and opportunities for tourism development, it is similar to our region of Trentino in the Alps. But there the local communities have joined forces in offering a common tourist product," Michele told Radio Bulgaria. According to him, the local Rila villages could also develop joint activities that complement each other. "For example, Govedartsi can specialize in cycling, Beli Iskar - in hiking, and Madzhare - in hiking with donkeys, but not only…," says Michele and adds:

"In Madzhare, we contacted the new mayor, offering her a project to build an educational eco-trail for children in the woods, near our house. You know that children are like mushrooms, they absorb everything. And if, while they are still young, 6-10 years old, we instill in them respect and care for nature, when they grow up, they will know that, for example, a cigarette butt decomposes in 100 years, a glass bottle will need 1,000 years, etc. We are now preparing to clear, with the help of volunteers, the grove through which the route will pass. We will place signs and other facilities made of natural material. The project received funding worth BGN 15,000. This is not a huge amount, but it will certainly be beneficial. The funds will also be used to build a small wooden house for meetings and talks,” said Michele.

People in Madzhare hope that the new attraction will attract not only student groups but also young families with children. "Michele and his wife came to me and made a presentation so I could get an impression of their idea for the eco-trail. And I agreed. We prepared the project and applied," says the mayor of Madzhare, Hristina Deyanova:

"Now we are about to sign the contract and we are starting to fix the route, because there are existing paths, we will also equip this house with a projection room for children's excursions for educational purposes. The eco-trail will be ready in November. It will reach the Saint George chapel and will be about 1 km long. In the village we have 5-6 guest houses, the interest is great, after all we are only 10 km. from Malyovitsa and 10 km. from Borovets”, explains Hristina Deyanova.

Volunteers are also relied on to build the route. Michele Crescentini took care of their organizing them. For years, the Italian settler has been providing free shelter and food to travellers from all over the world, and in return they are helping him for free on the farm in Madzhare. This principle will be employed also in this new project.

"We have French, British, Turkish guests, we even had a Chilean. Last year, together with them, we cleaned the village and painted all the curbs in yellow and black, completely free of charge. These people were accommodated and fed with us, my expenses were minimal, and the municipality expenses were zero. The village flourished,” Michele recalled.

Now the Italian entrepreneur hopes to win even more volunteers for Madzhare's cause. "What is missing in Bulgaria, if I may say so, is unification. People here are too individualistic. If these small communities, such as Madzhare and the nearby villages, come together to create something constructive, it will certainly benefit everyone," Michele Crescentini concluded.

English version Rositsa Petkova

Photos: Michele Crescentini, library
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