"Hotel Albania", as the subtitle says, is a book of travel, migration and tourism. But besides this, it must be said that the book is the first organic research on Albanian tourism, especially on the return, that is, of cultural tourism and research of origins that is often undertaken by young people of Albanian origin who mix tourism and research of identity.
The author, Francesco Vietti, is a PhD in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Genoa, and in the past he has already dealt with similar topics by also publishing the essays "Chechnya and Russia" and "The town of carers". These are experiences and knowledge that Vietti tries to use as a key to reading even in Hotel Albania to better decipher the Albanian situation in which tourism overlaps with the search for origins and the return to the motherland. One of the most interesting parts of the book, in fact, is the journey with "the boys of via Egnatia", sons of Albanian migrants established in Italy who visit their country of origin and as the journey continues, they narrate their impressions.
But the story that Vietti tells begins long ago, embellished with direct testimonies, exact numbers and figures. One of the merits of this research is that it is the first Italian attempt to write the history of tourism in Albania, from the beginning to the present day. It starts from the first tourist guide on Albania, the “Handbook for Travelers in Greece: Describing the Ionian Islands, The Kingdom of Greece, the Islands of the Aegean See, with Albania, Thassaly and Macedonia” by John Murray, 1854, yes it passes to the fascist period, where the story that Montanelli makes of Albania, especially of the capital, looms large.
He writes: “Tirana, arriving from Scutari for the good offices of the Ala Littoria which has excellent services down here, and after the days spent with the mountain people, made me feel like a busy anthill. Men, so many men, too many men and too small, compared to the lonely giant of the Mountain. Tirana seemed to me an exaggerated city. Messassi on the way to becoming a western capital, has yet to work hard to succeed. "Words that, alas, could well describe today's situation as well.
Not less interesting is also the socialist period where for the first time the tourist resorts are made available to the Albanians themselves, to then end with the modern and democratic tourism of the last few years which also sees the same author participate.
The merit of Francesco Vietti is that of having been swept away by these journeys. The anthropologist, in fact, does not place himself at the side of events as a mere observer, but becomes part of and an actor of these events. The author has seen Albania, sometimes even understood it, and therefore gives a faithful account that we cannot fail to welcome with pleasure and curiosity.