In Albania it is still possible to practice a very interesting tourist “sport”, in addition to the more common and classic holiday enjoyment of the coasts and lakes: the hunt for hidden treasures.
More precisely it is a matter of obtaining a suitable means of transport, better if a small 4 x 4, a nice pair of trekking shoes, a camera or, if you want, simply your cell phone room, a backpack with water and some slice of byrek with spinach and then you can go on an adventure in search of the historical heritage hidden somewhere outside the most famous places, but often also in the most unsuspected places.
It is possible to hunt down Ottoman stone bridges, towers, Roman roads, mosaics of the regime, Tibetan iron bridges and planks, rural fortress-houses, frescoed chapels or simply architectural gems hidden in the historic centers of cities as stone portals, columns, artistic facades and artifacts of antiquity.
It is not difficult to come across surprising sites hidden among the vegetation or in inaccessible places, very often not marked or simply uncomfortable to reach. The surprise effect, however, is guaranteed because a discovery is always surprising, especially when it happens without suggestions.
Apart from an indispensable good updated map, you can only count on the help of some indication of the people of the places, always kind, sometimes shy, often incomprehensible but most of the times useful. But if it happens to get bogged down somewhere, rest assured: there is always some unknown angel pulling you out of trouble.
On my last hunt at the end of July 2019 I found, and then walked for a short distance, an ancient military and commercial path along the valley of the Shushicë near the village of Gjorm.
It was a simple but happy discovery that took place looking at the sides of the dirt road a very small and half-hidden Ottoman imperial bridge of the sixteenth century for crossing a rocky puddle.
The clue was clear; somewhere the ancient road was hidden! In fact it was there, behind my back, seraphic and dignified, camouflaged and almost hidden in its simplicity and pride. Traced in the rock by innumerable human and animal passes over the centuries it has allowed the passage of troops and merchants during the epic of 5 empires in historical times. Beautiful experience to photograph and put in the drawer of memories.
Although the new road variant under construction for the Vlora-Borsh connection will soon occupy a large part of the already semi-paved route at the time of Hoxha, it is certain that some of the most remote remains preserved in the mountainous tracts, also uncomfortable to the bulldozers but not to the wayfarers of the past, they are always there, ready to be rediscovered, documented, preserved and handed down.
Good hunting for everyone!