January 21, 2014

Journey to Albania

Last summer I have been ten days in Albania, a country almost nearby, that we mostly know from its immigrants and refugees arrived in Italy after the 90', normally avoided by italian tourists. With my family we visited interesting places and met very nice people. Lots of albanians can speak italian also because under Enver Hoxha dictatorship could see italian tv channels.


In the ancient city of Gjirokaster (inscribed on the World Heritage List), we could visit this house (paying a 2 euro ticket to its owner), a well-preserved beautiful Ottoman building, arranged almost like a fortress to face the many invasions. The owner mister Skenduli has been persecuted by the communist government for his italian sympathies. We had a long conversation with him and he even sang for us some italian songs he likes. On his house facade we could see the emblem of a Naples king, as a tribute to an agreement with the local Pasha. 

Never Enver
In Berat, another city in the UNESCO Heritage List, we visited the ancient citadel. In the mountain in front of it, they told us the students had changed a gigantic inscription with the name of Enver (Hoxha) in "Never".
Butrinto, archeological site

Butrint is an important archeological site with a Greek theatre in a fascinating lagoon, facing Korfu island. We happen to be there during the summer international Theatre Festival, when they were playing The Tempest by Shakespeare, where the king of Naples is included too.

Porto Palermo castle

In Porto Palermo (a strategic Navy base, both in Ottoman period than during the cold war) we had another interesting conversation in italian on Albania's history with the venetian fortress guardian. The name Palermo recall an expedition toward Sicily and matches the "piana degli Albanesi" and the albanian speaking villages we have in the south of Italy.


We took the ferry back to Italy from Durres,  an incredible modern city, whose building growing apparently with no rules, dramatically transformed the environment in last ten years, like it happen in Italy after the II World War.

So interesting for us and my kids to discover such historical links with our culture in a place only seemingly far away. 


CharlieAmra said...

I love the tall double page spread. It looks like something out of a wonderful little travelogue book.

Björn Fundberg said...

Nice sketches!


Rolf Schröter said...

this is a beautiful report.

you depicted a real grey spot on my mental map. i must admit that only some years ago albania even slightly became part of my mental image of the world and than only was linked with strangly melancholic greyish images from hoxha- and close post-hoxha time.

thanks for this!

Simonetta Capecchi said...

@ Rolf, it was the same for us. Next time I'd like to go to Tirana, where the mayor used colors to transform the city: http://www.tedxhamburg.de/ted-talks-edi-rama-take-back-your-city-with-paint

VHein said...

These are lovely as well as fascinating, Simo--I too especially love the "vertical panorama"!

Mario Shllaku said...
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