Mahdia’s cemetery: the graveyard by the sea

Mahdia cemetery tunisia

Standing at the end of the small peninsula of Mahdia, at the foot of the Turkish stronghold Borj El-Kebir, the white graves follow one another towards the turquoise sea and they all point in the same direction, which is the direction of Mecca.

The Mahdia cemetery was founded in the 10th century, which is when the Arabs arrived in the village, and it is still in use.

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One day in Kairouan

kairouan tunisia

The essence of ‘A thousand and one nights’, which is, however, ninety-nine per cent real. What an aroma, how penetrating, how intoxicating, and at the same time simple and clear. Nourishment, the most real and substantial nourishment, as well as delicious drink. Food and intoxication. Scented wood is burning. Home?

Paul Klee, “The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898 – 1918”

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The quest for the key of Voskopoja

Voskopoja Albania

We left the car right outside the entrance of Voskopoja. The parking lot was empty and the village looked deserted, apart from a few old men drinking and smoking under the porch of the local bar. Our plan was to visit the frescoed churches, which recall a time when Voskopoja was a cosmopolitan metropolis, a centre of arts and cultures and the second largest city of the Ottoman Balkans after Istanbul.

 

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The beautiful Mavrovo Park and its surroundings

mavrovo macedonia

After my best friend’s big, fat, Balkan wedding and a few days wandering around Skopje, the time arrived to explore the rest of the country. So I rented a car, swore for a good 20 minutes imagining a whole week on the (Balkan) roads without an automatic drive and finally took to the ‘Mother Teresa’ highway. Next stop: Mavrovo National Park.

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“Steel of the party”: Industrial Archaeology in Albania

industrial archaeology in Albania

It took me so long to publish this post! In my defence, it was because I spent several months looking for someone who had worked at one of the most important factories in Albania, the big industrial centre of Kombinati Metalurgjik near the town of Elbasan, as I wanted to bring you a first-hand story about this huge industrial area, which is now charmingly abandoned (a truly amusement park for industrial archaeology lovers!).

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Road-trip essentials

road-trip essentials
There is something about road-trips, the lure of the open road, the flexibility of the itinerary, the 100% locals’ perspective, which makes them my favourite way of travelling.
The speed at which the landscape changes on the horizon perfectly goes with my stream of consciousness, the car going ahead helps me moving forward when my thoughts got stuck… it is both relaxing and stimulating, the perfect feeling to reconnect with myself.

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Albanian UNESCO listed ancient towns of Gjirokastër and Berat

Gjirokaster and Berat
Despite its beautiful nature and its rich cultural heritage, Albania is not yet a touristic destination: usually, we were the only two foreigners enjoying unspoilt beaches, wild mountainous areas and lake shores. The only two times when we weren’t the only foreigners around –apart from Tirana, the capital town- were in the two UNESCO-listed ancient towns of Gjirokastër and Berat.

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Përmet and the Balkan side of Albania

Permet, Albania
If last time I showed you the places I liked the most during my road trip around Southern Albania, this time I’m bringing you to the town where I found a great Balkan atmosphere: Përmet and the surrounding mountainous area.
Our three days in the Përmet area were very rainy, so we didn’t have the chance to spend a lot of time around.  We had to skip many open-air places on my bucket list, such as the ancient village of Frashër within the Fir of Hotova National Park and the Këlcyrë gorge, while we played for time and stayed a bit longer than planned into Përmet delicious restaurants tasting its well-known cuisine. In fact, this is not only the area of large national parks and beautiful green valleys, but it’s also renowned for its local wines and traditional products (such as the many different types of jam and compote), some of which are even protected by Slow Food Albania.

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Korça and the hinterlands of South-Eastern Albania

Korca, Albania, balkans
If you ask me which is the Albanian place I liked the most, the answer is Korça.
The town of intellectuals, artists and poets really got me, and I wouldn’t mind spending some time living there in the future. I would love it, actually!
Korça is characterised by wide boulevards with many cafes where locals enjoy a Turkish coffee or more often a beer or a raki –well, actually male locals, as it is very rare to spot girls on a night out on their own.

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