The moshava (rural settlement) dates back to the 19th century, and today it is a popular tourist spot with many nice guest houses (B&Bs), restaurants, galleries and arts and crafts shops.
Rosh Pina is a great place to use as a base for touring. There's a variety of excellent zimmers (B&Bs) to choose from. Read about my personal favourite: Shulamit Yard - Serenity Lodge, or click here to check other options for accommodation in Rosh Pina.
If you're going on a day trip, try some of my favourite places. Be prepared, though, for a walk up quite a steep road to get to the old village. Here's the route ...
As you make your way up the partly-cobbled road at the entrance to old Rosh Pina, you will see a sign on your right which says: Ja'uni - Food * Drink * Culture. This is a really cool bistro/restaurant. Food: grilled meat, fish, pasta and vegetarian dishes prepared fresh on the premises without preservatives. Drinks: you can just order coffee or fresh fruit juice and shakes or they also serve alcoholic beverages from local wines to cocktails. Culture: the waiters will bring you wooden brain-teaser puzzles while you eat - even in the toilets there are riddles and trivia. They also have live music sometimes in the evenings. Phone: 04-6931881
Continue the climb past Baron de Rothschild's gardens on your left which have been here since the 19th century. Many of the original flowers and trees were brought over from France.
At the top of the hill you will come to Rechov Harishonim where you can see the first row of houses built in Rosh Pina. The one-storey buildings had two rooms, each with a cow shed and a small yard. The first settlers lived here until the 1950s, when they moved to more luxurious dwellings on the lower slopes.
Turn left, past the synagogue and look out for some stone steps on your right which lead down to the restaurant, Shokolata. For chocoholics, there are delicious chocolate drinks and desserts and even chocolate soup! But there's also a dairy menu with a variety of omelettes, sandwiches and salads. You can sit at one of the wooden tables under the stone arches or sit outside on their cozy terrace. If you don't want a meal, go in and choose some yummy home-made chocolates to take home with you.
Next door to the restaurant is an old building called "Vilkomich's House" which has been converted into an arts and crafts gallery. As you walk in, the first room on your left immediately catches your attention with some very imaginative and colourful lamp designs which you won't find everywhwere. There, you can meet the designer, Sari Spooner, who has developed her own technique using paper and pieces of coloured glass to make lamps in the shape of flowers and leaves.
We can never resist buying some ceramics from Efrat - her shop goes by the same name. We love the rustic style and the prices are really reasonable - not "tourist" prices.
Next door in the same building, you can find The Well Gallery of Arts & Flavours which sells a variety of delicious boutique sauces and confitures, spreads and liqueurs. These are all hand-made locally, using traditional methods and contain only natural ingredients. You can find these Galileean delicacies in some speciality food shops around the country under the label "HaBe'er".
Sigal, the owner, is also an artist and as well as displaying some of her paintings in her shop, she has an exhibition of local artist's works in the entrance hall outside.
The Well Gallery of Arts & Flavours is open seven days a week from 10.30 to 15.30 or by appointment - you can contact Sigal directly on: 052-6930349 / 04-6930020 or contact me for more details.
Not far from here, you'll see an old stone building dating back to the 1880s which once served as Baron de Rothschild's administrative centre. It was here that his clerks and advisors took care of his interests in Rosh Pina and the surrounding area. After handing over the management to the Palestinian Jewish Colonization Association (PICA) in the early 1900s, the building became known as PICA House. It has since been restored and turned into a visitors centre, including a library and archives containing many historical documents. For a small entrance fee, you can enjoy an audio-visual presentation about the history of jewish settlement in the moshava, apparently also available in English. For groups of eight or more, you need to book in advance. Phone: 04-6936913.
If you go down the stone steps to the right of PICA House, you will get to Rafa's House (B'Beit Shel Rafa) - another beautiful, historic building which was turned into a restaurant in 1994. If the weather's good, sit outside and enjoy one of their sumptuous steaks on the terrace bordered by trees from the Rothschild gardens. The restaurant has a reputation for good food and is open seven days a week from 12.30 - 23.30.
From the restaurant you can walk back through the Rothschild gardens to get back to Rechov David Shub, the main road you came in on.
In English, Rosh Pina means "cornerstone" and gets its name from Psalm 118:22 "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." The moshava was founded in 1882, before the foundation of the State of Israel, making it one of the first Jewish settlements. The land was purchased from Moslem villagers of Ja'uni village.
The first settlers were Roumanian and Russian immigrants from the first aliyah. They had little or no farming experience and conditions were hard. The settlement nearly ended in disaster until Baron Edmond de Rothschild came to their rescue and gave them financial assistance.
If you want to take a private guided tour in the area, there's no-one better than Richard Woolf, who is a resident of Rosh Pina Read more about Richard ...
Other cool places to visit in Upper Galilee:
Hula Nature Reserve - A must-see for nature lovers.
Sfat (Sefad) - Mystical city and home of the Kabbalah.
Tiberias - Tourist centre on the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret).
Amirim - Country lodgings and restaurants for vegetarians.