Uniquely Hungary: Insider's Guide To Vác, By Anne Zwack

  • 23 Jun 2023 7:25 AM
Uniquely Hungary: Insider's Guide To Vác, By Anne Zwack
Monosyllabic and a little difficult to pronounce, Vác does not sound like an inviting place. It is, however, one of the loveliest small towns in Hungary, or as they say in Italian, a laughing little town. 35 kilometres from Budapest, it has escaped unscathed all the ravages of the sixties and seventies, preserved like a fly in amber so that it looks today much as it must have in the eighteenth century.

Its cathedral, built in 1761, was modelled on St. Peter’s in Rome while the Arc de Triomphe dates from the same time and was erected in honour of a visit by Empress Maria Theresa.

More than 250 years later, cult sculptor Mihály Kolodko paid it another visit to riff on the urban myth that the Habsburg royal was afraid to walk under the arch lest it collapse – you can see his little figurine nearby.

Green and peaceful, the main square is enchanting, with trees loud with birdsong and gardens with beds of pointed yellow tulips opening like chalices.

In Vác, too, is Mihalyi, one of the most extraordinary cake and coffee shops in Hungary.

The delectable cakes they make, which come not in slices but in individual little confections, are unique to the establishment with names like Stones from the Danube or Traviata. The cappuccino has a miniature ice cream cone attached to the saucer.

We came, however, to buy very reasonably priced antique furniture at the two Tolerian warehouse emporiums near Vác which you cannot locate without a GPS. Yvett is open only on Saturdays while her brother, Titus,  is open every day.

Vác reclines rather than stands on the green eastern bank of the Danube and a car ferry leaves every fifteen minutes or so for the island of Szentendre from where you can drive to the little town itself, making it a perfect round trip outing of a spring or summer weekend.

By Anne Marshall Zwack for XpatLoop.com

Anne was born in England in 1946, grew up in Cambridge and was educated in England and in Belgium. She lived and worked for several years in Paris, Rome and Milan where she met Peter Zwack who swept her off her feet and eventually brought her back to Hungary.

During this time she wrote for many important American publications including the Travel Section of the New York Times, Travel + Leisure and Gourmet Magazine. She currently divides her time between Budapest and Tuscany. Peter and Anne Zwack have two children and were married for forty years.

  • How does this content make you feel?