The images of the demolition of the National Theater of Tirana, have traveled around the world both for the modalities of the operation that saw an imposing deployment of police forces and violent clashes with civil society aligned in defense of the historic building, and for the debate between two opposing conceptions on the urban development of Tirana.
The first calls for defense and enhancement of the city's architectural heritage and the other is projected into a futuristic vision of the capital.
Who writes for professional orientation and personal affinity, recognizes himself in the position of those who ask for the defense and enhancement of the historical cultural heritage in its broadest sense.
And to drive away the images of that devastation, I did what an archivist does best, I took refuge in the papers. And from the cards rise images, sounds and a humanity of the past. The following article was published in Drini magazine, nr. 4 a.IV April 15, 1943, signed by the journalist Ridolfo Mazzucconi who offers a portrait of a city that was projected to become a European metropolis, but that did not give up having taking care of one's roots.
Birth of a metropolis
Drini nr. 4 a.IV April 15, 1943
Arriving in an unknown city always has a magical sense; a name from a geographical symbol becomes reality of houses, streets and squares, with so much ignored humanity that circulates and lives inside.
To find yourself in Tirana you have one more surprise: you can witness the birth of a city.
I should have said of a capital. The city was born for three and a half centuries, while the capital of was transported in 1923, it has only been taking shape and authority for a couple of years. It had 20 inhabitants at the beginning of its new existence, reaching and probably 40.000 today; it will have perhaps two hundred thousand is more in ten or twenty years, when it will have risen to the degree of Balkan metropolis.
The old city has remained intact
Limited by large streets and tree-lined courses, it has secluded itself in peaceful isolation. The noisy current of traffic, which in certain hours of the day forces the traveler to keep his eyes wide open to the nods of the metropolitan, does not cross the row of houses behind which the maze of the streets and alleys winds, interrupted here and there by some width. And that curtain is a discreet screen that allows two worlds, so different, to live without disturbing themselves according to their customs.
Before going to see the birth of the great Tirana, which the architect tailor has already cut, with fringed scissors, in a green piece of countryside to be filled with concrete stone, in vast geometric chess, held together with the basting of long and spacious avenues and immense squares; before pausing in front of the newly built buildings of the new administrative center, I liked, when I first arrived there, to wander for a long time in the old quarter, that is the old Tirana.
There is a square, in the middle of this neighborhood, the market, to which winding alleys of alleys lead, which branch out into other, narrower guts; but the neighborhood is cut lengthwise, even by fairly spacious streets, in curves it is downhill.
The topography is so intrigued that after going up and down for several days in a relatively sparse ward, it has often happened to me to lose my bearings, return to the starting point, to lose myself in the unexpected. Getting lost is not at all unpleasant here. I thought with anticipated regret that when by dint of returning, as I did almost every day, to that place, I was able to walk quickly, regardless of any point of reference so as not to get off the track, a large part of the initial interest would have faded; the taste of oriental exoticism would no longer tickle my palate; the warm notes of those walks that had a vague romantic color would end up among the rags of things whipped by habit.
Perhaps the memory of the first glance would have remained tenacious. In the first encounters with men, cities and towns there is always an electric air of revelation. Then, the frequency of contact, aided by reasoning, processes the images little by little in a fabric of ideas and gives the images consistency and relief, and at the same time wear and tear deters and corrupts them; but revealed truth, that ray of human sympathy that penetrates deeply into the first encounter, remains imprisoned in our soul.
The nascent capital of a new kingdom before raising its buildings to the sun took shape in the brain of an architect, who made it an imaginary portrait, on the map, on graph paper. The ancient village, founded at the beginning of the seventeenth century by the Turkish Suleiman Pascià, to whom he wanted to impose the pompous name of Tehran (later corrotosi in Tirana) in memory of his successful campaign In Persia, sprang day by day, without drawing, according to chance is opportunity.
The houses, almost all tiny, have come to stand side by side, on the trail of some path between the fields; and hold shoulder to shoulder so as not to fall.
Here and there the walls make protrusions and indentations, whims and endless twirls. And the houses don't back down to let traffic pass; they are comfortable, they go to face one, they turn with modesty or malagrazia from one side or the other, they take refuge at the bottom of an angiport. They have dark and gloomy bellies, but their faces are always freshly powdered, like a woman coming from the mirror: Muhammad's law requires that all the facades of houses in al Ramazan be whitewashed.
The streets are large cobblestones, or to the road and badly connected, on which the jewels that come and go, with the sums of wood and bags, and dance a syncopated dance of slips or stumbling blocks. The neighborhood is on a slope, and if it rains (Albanian gale storms) the pavement turns into a fishing net. It is not difficult to find a tree in these streets, which has remained a prisoner of houses in remembrance of the countryside chased away by the walls, or which later emerged among the paving stones.
A road where a tree gives birth, grows and exceeds the roof of neighboring houses, can give an idea a world in which time and space have no value.
But you don't have to believe that here, in this neighborhood where modern life is also ancient, everything proceeds at an inexplicable rhythm of contemplative slowness. The houses doze, the merchants smoke and shell their rosaries; people from faraway mountain villages wait patiently, crouched in a corner, on a step, under a small porch or a canopy, that the time has come to return home. Instead, inside the spewing shops outside the protruding stuff and tools, which often prevent walking, they work in a pitch area, in an incredibly narrow space, taciturn craftsmen.
If the weather is nice, they hammer in the middle of the street. It is pleasant to witness their work, to catch the unexpected many secrets of the trade. There are weavers who manufacture raw mats of squillaceous colored fabrics, coppersmiths who line amphorae, pàteras and curious grinders and jugs to make Turkish coffee on the sidewalk; potters with their expanse of pots, pans and dishes; carpenters, blacksmiths, shoemakers and tailors. The baker sells the bread from a window open in the window; he is behind him, boy with bare back knead, whisk, bake and churn; fryers and cooks are around the smoky pans and pans preparing mysterious fries and sauces.
Outside the bazaar, Tirana becomes large and modern; with much judgment, the demolition pickaxe refrained from biting into the island of the Balkan village. Afterwards, he will have to visit it; but it will do it with much respect. From all sides, an alley leads you by surprise to one of the spacious streets of the modern city. Which presents itself, to those who come from Durres or Elbasan, with graces of a polite western citizen, or with unripe openings from a European metropolis. The office area, with its buildings, truly has the appearance of the capital of a country with a great future open to it. On the axis of three large avenues that open with fan slats in the west and south-west directions, towards the sea, the city advances towards the empty countryside; new housing districts will soon spread to their sides. But an entire city, the one that is given the name of Tirana Nuova, has already been born on the sides of the Viale dell'Impero, and extends to the hills that surround the charming basin of Tirana from the east. There is a lot of space around Tirana. The chain of mountains and hills that surrounds it, very close from the north and from the east, shelters them from the cold currents that descend on the Balkans and up to the Adriatic from the boreal regions. On the midday side, it keeps away and includes a vast undulating plaque of verdant countryside. In this, the capital of Albania will find not only a suitable site and convenience to extend, but in the distant future, also a copious source of supplies, when the currently depopulated lands left idle will be cultivated.
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Florence, 2 May 1889 - Forlì, 23 January 1959 was an Italian journalist and writer.
He was the author of about thirty books. On behalf of the Institute for International Political Studies in 1937, after the Ethiopian war, he published the History of the Conquest of Africa in four volumes. He wrote novels and novels that appeared in installments on La Nazione and dealt, in an anti-academic and popular way, with art history by publishing some fictional biographies.
Collaborator and editor of various periodicals and from May to December 1944 he was director of the New Anthology. In 1960 he published a volume of poems preceded by a preface by Ardengo Soffici.
«Among the Italian writers of this time, Ridolfo Mazzucconi is one of the most prepared and chastened. Intellectually, culturally, historically, politically prepared; linguistically chastised, stylistically in the classical sense, that is ours, as is meant in the context of the civilization characteristic of the Latin world. He proves in all his books of true superiority and seriousness of spirit, as well as artistic talents, as in some of his fantastic stories, and above all as a lyric poet, singular for his strength of images and elevated sentiment and thought "
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