Albania, a land rich in history and natural beauty, has unjustly entered tourist circuits only recently.
If neighboring Greece, Turkey and Croatia have played a crucial role over the years in the tourist scenario of the geographical area, Albania has remained on the sidelines. Fortunately for the country, but also and above all for tourists, the Republika and Shqipërisë has finally come out of the shadows.
This summer my family and I decided to spend the holidays in Albania. The decision was also born from the need to reconcile the physiological need for summer relaxation and the natural curiosity that belongs to us. We have therefore opted for an itinerary that included days spent at the beach together with real trips around the country. For this reason we started by car, so as to facilitate the movement between the north and the south of Albania.
The arrival in Albania was strange, at least for tourists on holiday in a country never visited before. In fact, we immediately felt at home. The people, friendly and hospitable, spoke good Italian and busied themselves to help. Once we passed the checks at the port of Durres and packed our luggage at the hotel, we headed towards the city center.
Durrës it is a beautiful, colorful and dynamic town. The scent of byrek in the air, the invitation of the muezzin to prayer from the mosque, the shouting of young Albanians in the streets, the jets of water from fountains in the square, have catapulted us into the city and the holiday mood .
We have discovered beautiful views of Durrës, very elegant bars and a lot of history. After visiting the Muzeu Arkeologjik, a guide accompanied us to the amphitheater and Roman baths. The proportions of the theater are enormous, as are the remains still below ground. Soon Italian archaeologists will begin excavations in the city. The most striking thing about Durrës is the constant tension between antiquity and modernity. The ancient city walls, the Roman findings, the Venetian torra coexist elegantly with ultra modern structures and imposing palaces. The continuum between past and present unfolds before everyone's eyes, without creating havoc or stridency. Even its coastline is very beautiful and well organized.
Kruja it is, or at least it was in our eyes, a little jewel. The narrow and cobbled streets, the different wooden constructions allow tourists to immerse themselves in the traditional Albanian culture. The bazaar full of colors and shapes, guides visitors fascinated towards the majestic and imposing castle, and the museum dedicated to the national hero Skanderbeg. Once arrived at the Kalaja the view is breathtaking and you feel catapulted into the past, at the time of the ancient battles against the Turks and the visit to the Muzeu Etnografiku does nothing but feed this journey back in time.
Tirana she's gorgeous. It looks like a chaotic and fascinating European capital, where ancient architecture blends well with the modernity of the city. The artificial lake and the park were a pleasant surprise that fascinated and relaxed us at the same time.
The north and the south of Albania represent for me two different and complementary natural beauties. The north, with its imposing mountains and sandy coasts and the south, with the rocky sea and the vast expanses of green. The castle of Lezhë is enormous and exciting, from which you can enjoy a fantastic view; beautiful and familiar Vlorë, with its mosque and the war memorial. Both Shëngjin and Orikum beaches are full of life and tourists; both locations are able to offer a perfect tourist stay. With just a few euros you can spend the day at the beach, comfortably lying on a deckchair under an umbrella. The shores are clean and well kept and the various street vendors allow you to buy food, games, sunscreen, without leaving the beach.
The final balance of this Albanian experience can only be positive. We were fine and we will remember the holiday with nostalgia. There are still many places to visit that the few days available didn't allow us to see. But we vowed to return. I feel obliged, with respect to kind Albania, to make some small notes that should not be understood as a critique for its own sake, but rather as a wish for improvement. I hope that Albania continues its path of growth by highlighting the natural and architectural beauties it possesses, investing in its history and culture, financing further archaeological excavations and new historical-cultural research.
I hope that the new generations will learn from the migratory experience, without, however, abandoning their roots and traditions. I wish that Albania is not ashamed of its past, but rather remembers it to treasure old experiences because, as they say among the Albanians, 'the most formidable enemy is the one you have forgotten'.
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