In Plyos, an ancient town on the Volga, where Isaac Levitan once lived and worked, I came to the Chaliapin Dacha Festival as part of the Year of Italy in Russia. Masterpieces of Italian opera on the Market Square. Among the participants are the pearls of the Russian, Bashkir and Italian scenes: Robertino Loretti, Giordano Luca, Svetlana Shilova and others. Well, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra “Russian Philharmonic” under the baton of the Italian conductor Marco Boemi. This week in Plyos was full and colorful with everything: the people, the program, and the most picturesque “Levitan” landscapes…
It takes at least five hours to drive to Plyos from Moscow, and along the way, be sure to buy strawberries and blueberries collected from grandmothers in clean forest glades. And go, if there is time, with stops. It is possible through Pereslavl-Zalessky, and there you can look at Pleshcheyevo Lake, the Blue Stone and at least one of the five local monasteries. And you can stop by the Monastery of the Life-Giving Cross of the Shuiskaya Diocese near the village of Antushkovo and, on the way, swim in the blue-blue lake Ryumnikovo among tall pines and fields of violet-blooming willow-tea. And already at the entrance to Plyos, take a dip in the Holy Spring of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God in a small Privolzhsk.
And here we are in Plyos. The relief of the city is unusual. In this place, the Volga flows, as it were, in a valley, where both banks are quite steep. The city itself stands on high hills (the locals call them mountains). The highest point of the Reach is Cathedral Hill, 54 m above the Volga. The second highest, Mount Levitan, is slightly lower, 50 m.
You can settle in Plyos “with feeling, with sense, with arrangement” and for every taste and budget. At least in the premium-class wellness resort Vila Ples, a few kilometers from the city itself, at least in numerous guest houses (you can stay in a single-family house, you can stay in a farmstead with several rooms), even in a hotel. For example, in “Villa Fortecia” at the very end of the Plesskaya embankment, with a view of the Volga and a wonderful bath complex and spa.
This time I choose the comfort of the “Guest Estate Ples” – a comfortable mini-hotel with 8 rooms, located in the historical part of the city, in a nightingale grove. In January 2017, the hotel received the Guest Review Awards from Booking.com
The original building of the Guest Estate dates back to the 1950s. Subsequently, it was repeatedly rebuilt and built on, and although its external forms were preserved as much as possible, the inside of the house underwent quite radical changes. The design of the estate was made by a resident of Ples, the famous architect Ilya Sologubovsky, who recreated the atmosphere of a cozy Russian estate with the maximum possible comfort.
On the territory there are several pavilions and a barbecue area and other dishes on an open fire, an open terrace with a beautiful view of Mount Levitan. All this makes the “Guest Estate” ideal for family holidays and small weddings.
The guest house’s restaurant specializes in Russian cuisine and makes the most of local products: some is grown in their garden, mushrooms and berries are harvested for the whole year. The local cheese factory offers more than 20 types of cheese, real burrato and mozzarella. Meat for the kitchen is bought from local farmers, fish from local fishermen or fish farms.
They also make their own pickles and tinctures, make jam, make dumplings and dumplings, bake bread and pies, as well as unforgettable desserts: biscuits, panna cotta, tiramisu, cakes.
Special attention deserves homemade pasta with homemade pesto, Volga fish soup with smoke, pike and carp cutlets, baked sterlet.
The chef of the restaurant, Marina Borisenko, completed an internship with the famous chef of Michelin restaurants at Kabayashi Katsuhiko and at the Italian restaurant Riko in Moscow.
How can you entertain yourself in the “Guest Estate”?
Play the French game petanque, a special playground is equipped for it, or badminton. And you can order a massage “in the hayloft” in the room. Or arrange a mini-shopping a’la Rus in a small shop at the hotel.
For children, there is a playground and a fabulous house where they can take drawing and needlework lessons. And the children also adore the “keepers” of the estate – black and red cats (Kuzya and Timofey, respectively).
But Plyos is also museums, the romantic Volga embankment and picturesque nature. Here you can also engage in active recreation: in winter it is a ski slope right on the Volga, in summer – water sports, fishing, a bathhouse and – all year round – hiking in the picturesque hills.
Walking along the embankment, you can look for dessert, coffee and the famous angles with bream, at Kuvshinnikova’s Coffee House – Levitan’s beloved. You should definitely climb its mountain or the Temple, go to the painter’s museum, where, if you’re lucky, the wonderful Lyubov Mikhailovna Lebedeva, a researcher at this house-museum, will lead the tour. She will tell how the history of her family is connected with the history of Levitan, what was Levitan’s lover, the artist Sofya Petrovna Kuvshinnikova, and why Levitan quarreled with Chekhov.
Find all small and large monuments on the embankment, buy smoked bream, hire a boat and ask to be taken to a distant beach. Swim in the Volga, feast on bream, share it with cats, of which there are many in Plyos, and watch the ships passing by. And in the evening, take a steam bath from the heart – it is especially good in Villa Fortecia. You can choose a bath for every taste. For example, taiga and bathing in boilers with milk and honey.
And yes! Be sure to take an anti-mosquito spray with you, because, as Alexander Sergeevich once said, “Oh, red summer, I would love you if it weren’t for mosquitoes and flies …”
And in the end, I will tell you a story that touched my heart to the very bottom. History of acquaintance with Robertino Loretti.
The Italian singer known throughout Russia came to the festival accompanied by conductor Mark Boemi and other Italian colleagues. Loretti and I became fast friends. However, as with the entire Italian troupe. He said that I very much remind him of some Maryanina, a translator from the distant 80s: “I like that you smile all the time. And I can feel your heart.” True, he could not remember in any way that I was Yana, and continued to call me Dzhana (I did not mind – after all, in Armenian Dzhana is dear).
We drank coffee, and I listened attentively to his stories: that he had recently suffered a stroke and, like Baron Munchausen, literally pulled himself by the hair: “It’s too early for me to leave. Don’t wait!”
He also shared his plans for a quick trip to Belarus and promised to come to Moscow in December. He told me about his restaurant in Rome and promised to personally prepare his signature dish for me. He also presented and signed a disc, on one of the photos of the insert of which he hugs with Marcello Mastroianni.
But on the last evening, the evening of the concert… It was especially touching. Loretti sang from the stage in the main square of Plyos. And the whole area sang along with him. And she filmed Jamaica and Santa Lucia with thousands of smartphones. The square was filled with music and the blue glow of screens, and Loretti, leaving, thanked the audience with tears in his eyes. And those who connected with the energy with which he said this also had tears in their eyes.
The next morning after the concert, the Italians left for Moscow. I came to see them off. Robertino sat thoughtfully on the sofa. I quietly sat down next to him. He looked at me again, and again began to live and share those feelings and emotions that he experienced that evening on stage:
“I have probably finished my career. And this is normal: new faces come, new voices sound … But Russia … The Russian people … They love me so much. Did you see how the whole area stood up? How did they sing along? They gave me so much love…” and tears appeared in his eyes again. And on mine too.
I hugged him and said that it was not Russia that gave him love, but that he exchanged love with Russia.
Heart to Heart.
And she gave him a bouquet, which he did not wait for in the final, leaving immediately after the performance. He thanked, but said that he would not take him to Italy alive. But one flower will pull out of it. For memory.
Then I myself pulled out three spikelets from the bouquet.
He nodded and said, “I know. This is the symbol of Russia. And she is always with me, ”and put the spikelets in the bag.
And then he took off his jacket and showed a tattoo on his arm: a swallow holding a spikelet in its beak.
“Do you know this song of mine? About the Swallow?
I did not know.
But I was lucky to get to know Robertino Loretti.
And I wrote down our meeting in Plyos forever in my heart.