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If we take Italo Calvino’s words that a city “says everything you must think and makes you repeat her discourse” to be true, then Albanian cities have certainly had their way with the collective imagination of an entire population. For many years under Communist rule, Albanian cities were dominated by grey, a color which reflected its gloomy property on the lives and imagination of its citizens. This implicit lack of freedom enabled a totalitarian regime to flourish for more than 45 years. However, this purposeful lack of variety and creativity has been gradually overturned in the last several decades and an amazing array of colors has covered the building façades of many cities.
As Albanian cities continue to be reshaped, we find facades painted in Mondriani’s contemporary patterns, electrical city boxes decorated with street art, the walls of forgotten palaces covered in political graffiti and residential buildings displaying gigantic figures, Banksy-style. It was Calvino who also wrote that a city “does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning roads, the poles of the flags.” Albanian cities have opted for an extreme makeover, a look which stands in stark contrast to the past, perhaps defying it and, while in the freshly painted cities of Albania, you will still encounter its deeply layered past, you will also be confronted with a decisively brighter and more beautiful future.
Via Egnatia, one of the most important trade routes of the Roman Empire’s ingenious road network, once connected the Eastern and Western parts of empire. Constructed by the Romans in the 3rd century B.C., the road was functional for almost two millennia. The traces of this epic road, which unite all Balkan countries, begin precisely [...]