If you look at history, language and traditions it seems that Albania and Italy have very little in common.
Albania is a Balkan land, overlooking the Mediterranean, imbued with Ottoman culture, and a disputed land for centuries. It seems that Albania shares with Italy just the Strait of Otranto (about 50 nautical miles).
But if you travel across Albania, you will realize how still strong and popular is the Italian culture.
The Italian dream
Anyone who finds out that you are Italian will stop you, and he will want to tell you about his “Italian dream”. They follow the Italian football championship regularly, and they don’t miss a game. I found myself talking about the Cagliari team championship, and about Gigi Riva, Gianfranco Zola and Matteoli, all great champions of the past of the Sardinian team.
The Italian singers are real stars here, and often someone sang me a song that I have never heard before, but that I had to pretend to know, hiding the embarrassment…
I have found many people who learn job skills in Italy and now manage their business in Albania. Especially in catering, you won’t have any difficulty in finding an excellent pizza, delicious ice cream and properly Italian espresso.
Many Albanians know Italian, and some of them speak it with perfect pronunciation. Sometimes without ever having set foot in Italy… wow!
But there is a reason behind this: the television. During the years of the dictatorship, an entire generation grew up watching Italian television channels secretly, since it was forbidden.
All of them had a parabolic antenna oriented towards the other side of the Adriatic sea. I found out we saw the same cartoons and tv shows I used to watch when I was a child and teen. Still today they watch Italian tv, and they know it much better than me, yet I don’t fell embarrassed at all about it 🙂
And what about the ancient Arbëreshë communities, established in Italy during the diaspora and now completely part of the varied Italian culture. They maintain their own language, although rich in local influences, and peculiar traditions such as the Greek-Byzantine religious rite, or the music of which a festival is still held every year.
The main migration occurred in the fifteenth century, invited by the Kingdom of Naples, to escape persecution following the Ottoman invasion of Albania. Their communities are now scattered in seven regions of Southern Italy, for a total population of about 100 thousand inhabitants, with a strong presence in Calabria and Sicily.
The country has experienced great development in recent years, which has slowed down a bit recently but still continues to grow, the GDP went from around 3USD billion in the year 2000 to over 15USD billion last year. Tourism is becoming an important part of the economy, and we hope they will manage to control their delicate balances in developing it.
We suggest you visiting Albania, this is the moment, you can breathe a beautiful energy and strong vitality. You will find places of breathtaking beauty, friendship and human warmth, but also places still degraded and people trying to redeem their lives. An amazing place, despite the great contradictions, just like in any region of Italy, just like the 21st region of Italy, in fact…
We will cross it together with Ride & Seek, on a wonderful bike trip on the tracks of Marco Polo.
And, of course, we can create wonderful tailor-made trips for your private departure.
Let’s go to Albania!