The Albanian itinerary, given the limited time available, is consequently limited. A circular tour that tries to save goat and cabbage, the famous coast and the historic cities, with a wink of the eye on two natural parks.
The distance between Durres and Tirana is more or less the same as that between Caserta and Naples, and the landscape is more or less the same.
It seemed to me that I was arriving in Caserta via Lusciano and Marcianise. Same ugliness, with industrial sheds and accumulations of rust and sheet metal; disorderly and sloppy campaigns, pharaonic and hyperkitsch Hollywood-style constructions - columns and statues and gilding, cabbage with snacks - that appear as epiphanies.
[The whole world is a country, the suburbs of the big cities are always squalid, grrrr.
But in Brittany, or in Baveria ...
The suburbs of the big cities are almost always squalid. Double grrrr.]
But unlike, an infinite number of fuel distributors.
There are many (even along the road between Tirana and Berat), always equipped with a refreshment point, a bar, a hotel (I wonder how they can all survive with such competition)
Albania is at the same time an archaic and new country.
It is admirable how much she managed to do in just over twenty years, since the fall of the regime.
The statistics pigeon-holed it among the poorest countries in Europe (according to the per capita income at purchasing power parity - PIL PPA 2015 of the International Monetary Fund ), but the ambition to wealth and modernity, if out of a project and out of control, does not always bring good things.
The considerations on Durres e Tirana they can only be epidermic, given that in the first city I spent a handful of hours before boarding for Bari, and in the second a single day.
A Durres there is a long boulevard, with palm trees, good palaces (on the terrace of one of which, recalled by the verses, I saw a large cage full of pigeons, a small cattery) and baretti fichetti.
The square overlooked by the great Mosque and various public buildings and fountains is very beautiful.
On the waterfront, between Ventus (which is a hotel restaurant built on the sea, Dubai style) e sfinksi, or capo square, a public concrete structure, a stepped square / terrace 'n punt'o mar, which on one side remembers the sphinx and on the other a sort of geological stratification (if it was less neglected, if there was no wandering around ...) and beyond, rows of high-rises seem to want to absorb the waves.
Near the Venetian tower, where the battlements skyline is dominated by the bar umbrellas, there is a large building that was built incorporating the walls of the ancient Byzantine castle.
I had the feeling that in Albania there is a short circuit between one's past (roots that cannot - and must not - be cut, but also poverty, the limitations imposed by the dictatorship) and the idea of the future.
This sometimes produces strident situations (and abandons, even before completing).
I think of the Pyramid of Tirana, built as a monument-celebrative museum of Enver Hoxha.
With the fall of the regime, it was used for other purposes: NATO base, event center. Now it is in a state of abandonment and disconcerting degradation. A real one damnatio memoriae.*
But I also saw realities of the opposite sign.
Very interesting are the Bunk'arts, two of the bunkers, among the hundreds of thousands built during the Hoxha regime (dictators are all paranoid), converted into a place where memory becomes reflection and warning.
Il Bunk'art 2 was built between the 1981 and the 1986, intended to house the elite police and the Ministry of the Interior staff in the event of a possible nuclear attack.
Now it's a museum.
In the rooms that open on the side of the long corridors, the "police" story of Albania is told from independence until the fall of the regime.
The explanatory panels are in Albanian and English, but also without dwelling too much on words, the images (photos, videos) objects, but above all the space itself [claustophobic, oppressive, labyrinthine, disorienting] say so much.
[I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed in the rooms related to the fascist occupation, as if it was my fault.]
Bunk'art 2 is located a stone's throw from the Scanderberg square, a huge square, so huge that I felt like a little ant.
I imagined how one could feel in the midst of an oceanic crowd gathered there for a meeting, for example.
A grain of sand.
[I do not know why. even Piazza del Plebiscito in Naples is vast - not to mention Piazza di Spagna in Seville -, but I didn't feel the sensation of tinyness that filled me in Scanderbeg square].
Except in the afternoon sun, and wandering around the edges, it is a welcoming place: on the edge, between the National Museum and the Opera House and the Clock Tower, between the Mosque and the Church
Orthodox, there are green spaces and benches, artistic installations and fountains.
In the evening, intermittently, red, blue, green and yellow lights illuminate the flower beds.
Lampposts in the shape of gigantic lampshades illuminate the streets that converge in the square.
Beautiful, very nice and really relaxing is the large public park on the artificial lake, the Parku i Madh i Tiranës.
You can run (not only athletes, but entire teams, with regulation uniforms and flip-flops, I saw the avenues beat rhythmically), walking, sitting watching ducklings, doing yoga or other more dynamic sports. There is also an outdoor theater.
[and public toilets are spotless].
From sunset it fills up with a man. A real green lung - and a beating heart - in the city center.
I found the renovation of the ancient market area of Tirana beautiful, Pazari the ri.
The benches of fruit, junk, spices, are topped by a glass structure, in the shape of a curtain, in which the bright colors are reflected, yellow, purple, black red of the geometric painting of the surfaces of the modern buildings that surround the square.
(they reminded me of the motifs of traditional rugs)
A riot of colors and smells.
Tirana is a city with a chromatic vocation. Even the traffic lights.
They are mounted on poles that reproduce a tree in a stylized way. Not only the lighthouse is illuminated with green or red or orange, but all the ambaradan. Very tasty.
And coffee in Tirana (but throughout Albania) is really good.
* There is a project that would make it a center of youthful creativity, even a disco [other than damnatio memoriae, true nemesis]. We must hurry.
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