Eight days exploring the south of Albania
This is a special tour because it leads us to discover the true unknown reality of this country, (which is very different from that reported by the media) and of this people, the Albanian, politically divided into several states (Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro), but united by the common ethnic origin, language, history, culture and traditions, even if with obvious and particular diversity. Called Toske Tour, for the simple reason that the whole area of South Albania that we will visit, speaks the Toske dialect (the Albanian language is divided into two subgroups: Toske and Gege, the part of North Albania speaks Gege dialect, and South Albania speaks Toske dialect). We will travel from the capital of Albania Tirana (a true western metropolis of over one million two hundred thousand inhabitants, visiting the history up to the six-story underground bunker of the dictator Enver Hoxha last act of the communist dictatorship), until Deep South (Saranda) where we admire the Albanian butrint Pompeii heritage of UNESCO and the emerald sea of Ksamil called the Bora Bora of the Ionian, Apollonia Illyrian city placed on the ancient Via Egnatia, we climb up to 1,000 meters to the Passo di Llogora where breathtaking view of the Ionian coast deserves a break, then we will go down to Himare, we will see the submarine bay of the period of the firm, we will stop in Porto Palermo to visit the Castle of Ali Pasha Tepelene, and tired but amazed in the evening we will arrive in Saranda on the beautiful bay from where you can admire the sunset on the island of Corfu (Greece) a few kilometers away.
We will visit Argirocastro the village and the castle and we will go in the middle of the mountains to discover another Albania that the less tourist more in contact with the people. Then we will go to Permet a small town located in the south of Albania, on the banks of the river Vjosa, in a valley of great beauty (from here you can reach the Redhi i Hotovës National Park, to plunge into its woods and its deep canyon) and weather permitting we can visit the Canyon of Lagarice and the historical sites, walk on the ancient Ottoman bridges and visit the remains of one of the oldest Orthodox monasteries in the area, but we will also find the time for a moment of pure relaxation to immerse yourself in one of the thermal baths present of sulphureous water at 28 ° enjoying the natural corollary., and thanks to our guide of the place that will then take us to visit Benje a small town where time has stopped in the 50s and a workshop of the famous Gliko. From Permet we will go to the cultural cradle of South Albania, the city of Korça, a city of serenades, where we will visit the first Albanian school and the largest Orthodox cathedral of Albania, located in the center of Korça. Then we continue to the small as an extension, but not less important, the city of Pogradec that with the Ocrid lake border with Macedonia. We will enjoy the Drilon park, the small paradise of Pogradec, and then Berat the UNESCO “city of a thousand and one windows” with the castle at the top and the Iconographic Museum Onufri the most important of Albania. We will visit Kruja, city of the hero, symbol of the Albanian resistance against the Turks whose national leader and hero, Scanderbeg, earned the title of “protector of Christianity” to whom Rome dedicated a square and a large statue, and then Durres the port city of Albania already important at the time of the Romans who called “The Taverna of the Adriatic” with the largest amphitheater in the Balkans. We will be able to taste some local dishes, here in Albania the food and wine is enhanced by natural products – bio such as fruit and vegetables, but also by fine wines (from the native vines of the white Debine and the red Kallmet), with its products highly bio, we will taste some of the most famous dishes among which the Tave Dheu and Kosi, the kid in the oven or on the spit, the famous and delicious Byrek, which in Korça we will taste it in a different way from the other cities, called ‘Lakror’ from the inhabitants of Korça, the delicious Kos cheese, the white Feta cheese and the salted sheep butter and then the liquid yogurt, but also desserts such as the Bakllava, the Kadaif and the Ballokume but especially in Permet the very famous is the Gliko, a compote of whole fruit that is produced in the families and served as a welcome to the guests usually accompanied by a teke (small glass) Rakì the local grappa of grapes but also of blackberries and cornel, you will warm up with tea the mountains, which the wise hands of mountain women gather in places not very accessible, sweetened with sage honey always local. You will certainly not get bored, and you will not get tired, you will not always have the suitcase in your hand as we will just stay overnight in two structures. You will dine in excellent and well-served restaurants, and time permitting outside with the scent of the sea that will conciliate your appetite, where you will find everything you want.
Day 1 – Arrival at the airport (or port of Durres).
Departure for Sarande. During the road we will visit the archaeological site of Apollonia not far from the important Via Egnatia (via Ignazia, natural continuation of the Via Appia) or the communication route of the port of Durazzo with Constantinople at the time of Roman domination. (Founded in 588 BC Greek colonies of Kerkyra (today’s Corfu) and Corinth, Apollonia was one of the most important commercial centers of the time and was defined by Cicero: “magna urbs et gravis” – that is – large and majestic city. light in the early years of the twentieth century by a French team, even if many of its treasures have remained hidden.The site visit is carried out with official site guide.We will then resume the road to Saranda, passing through the city of Vlora, then with stop along the road after the Llogora pass to remain open-mouthed with the breathtaking view of the Ionian coast and then to Porto Palermo with a visit to the castle with a “technical stop” Himare on the seafront where you can take a good coffee espresso.Cena outdoor restaurant and overnight in 4 * hotel in Saranda.
2nd Day – Breakfast.
Saranda in Italian Santi Quaranta (from the Orthodox monastery of the 40 Saints, the legend tells of the 40 martyred soldiers left to die in a frozen lake because they did not deny their Christian faith), and Porto Edda (Benito Mussolini’s daughter) at the time of Italian colonization .
Departure (arrival scheduled at 10.00) for the site of Butrint, (World Heritage Site – UNESCO) flagship of the Albanian archeology. Butrint dates back to the 7th century BC and according to Virgil was founded by Eleno son of Priam Re di Troia, the Greeks make Butrint a fortified commercial city (the remains of the acropolis are still visible). Its 6th century BC fortification evokes all the military power of the city and is a symbol of a rich culture and an important and thriving city. It then became an important Roman colony. It then fell under the dominion of the Venetians and Turks, losing its importance over the course of the century and beginning its decline. The city found (only partially excavated) is a very important microcosm of almost 3,000 years of Mediterranean history. The visit to the Butrint site is carried out with an official site guide. Visit to the precious antiquarium (museum) on the spot. Visit to the village of Ksamil “The Albanian Maldives” where beach and sea are the most beautiful of all Albania.
Return to the hotel in Saranda. Return scheduled for 17.00 leaving the opportunity for visitors to walk on the promenade and shopping. Dinner in an outdoor fish restaurant, overnight in a 4 * hotel.
3rd day – Breakfast.
Later departure for Argirocastro. Visit to Argirocastro or Girocastro (World Heritage Site – UNESCO) (Argirocastro, its name in Greek means Silver Fortress and the city clearly shows the meeting of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Turkish and Albanian cultures) visit to the old city, shopping in the various local craft shops, visit the castle on the top of the hill. After lunch we leave for Permet, we will visit the area of Benje from where the Kelcyre canyon starts, where in a truly spectacular valley spontaneous waters and hot waters sulfure at about 28 degrees (you can immerse yourself in one of the many natural pools). According to the locals, the water that flows from every small spring has its own curative peculiarities for diseases caused by diseases of the skin, bones, stomach), in the area there is the Ottoman bridge of Kati on the Lengarica torrent, before flowing into the Vjosa river , draws for miles a magnificent Canyon that can be visited during the summer season. Return to the hotel in the early evening. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Permet.
4th Day – Breakfast.
Departure for Korçe, the “city of serenades”, cultural cradle of the province, once also called “Little Paris” of Albania. The cultural center of Albania of a time was Voskopoja which is located in the immediate vicinity, now only a small village, it has transferred all its culture and wisdom together with many inhabitants right in the town of Korça, this after being burned and destroyed by the Ottomans. We will visit the center of the city, the Orthodox Cathedral of the “Resurrection of Christ” the largest in Albania, built in 1992 in the place of the old cathedral that was demolished during the communist regime as well as other hundreds of religious structures as at that time the regime did not allow any religious profession. After the cathedral we will go to the museum which recalls the “first Albanian language school in Albania” opened at 1887 and is located in the center of the city of Korça. We will also visit the museum of medieval art, one of the most important museum centers in Albania that has over 7,000 artifacts, mostly icons and works in stone, wood, metal and textiles created from the early Middle Ages to the early twentieth century. of anonymous and famous artists from different parts of the country. In the main hall there is a collection of icons and objects that reflect the different moments of development of the Albanian iconography and their main representatives. There are works by anonymous authors of c. XIII-XIV and others well known as: Onufri, Onufër Cypriot, Constantine Teacher, Jeromonaku, Shpataraku, Selenicasi, Zografi brothers, etc.
In the early afternoon departure for Pogradec, the city that extends to the shore of Lake Oher or Ohrid, 700 meters above sea level, in a valley surrounded by mountains to the west and low hills to the south and east. Lake Ohrid is also known as the natural habitat of one of the rarest and oldest fish species in the world, the Koran fish (we hope to have a little luck to find it fresh and taste it for dinner / lunch).
Accommodation at the hotel, and free evening for a walk on the lake shore.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
5th Day – Breakfast at the hotel.
Walk in the center of the small town of Pogradec, then we will visit the national park of Drilon, a name given by the river that flows through the heart of the park, a real little paradise. After lunch we leave for Berat, the city of “one thousand windows” (with special status on the Unesco bond). In 2008 the historic center of Berat was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site, as “a rare example of Ottoman city well preserved “. Accommodation in the hotel. Walk on the boulevard, flies and the Orthodox cathedral. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Berat.
6th Day – Breakfast at the hotel.
In the early morning we will visit the castle of Berat, where there are 42 churches, many of which of the IV -V century of which few have preserved over time the original traces, the museum Onufri, housed in the ancient Orthodox Cathedral of the “Dormition of the Virgin “, (Named after the 16th century Albanian icon painter), and ancient Orthodox churches. Visit the historical and ancient part of the city the district of Mangalemi with the typical Ottoman houses, visit the historical district of Gorica and the Gorica bridge. The visit is carried out with an official Berat guide.
Lunch at Berat and departure for the capital of Albania Tirana. In Tirana we will visit the National Historical and Archaeological Museum first, then continue with a visit to the center of Tirana, of the Scanderberg square (Giorgio Castriota Scanderberg, the national hero who for twenty years resisted the invasion defending Albania and Europe and its Christian moral and religious values from the Ottoman-Turkish invasion) symbolic place of the City (Ethem Bey Mosque, the Clock Tower). Walk in the Taiwan park and boulevard Deshmoret and Kombit (Pyramid of Enver Hoxha, Government Palace, Qemal Stafa Stadium). (Tirana, the capital of Albania, has almost one million inhabitants, so it is only one third of the entire Albanian population, a city of business par excellence, a western city for the quality of life and the way of life of the people of Tirana. in fact it is that of any other European city that is very different from all other Albanian cities, here it is commonly spoken Italian and especially English). Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Tirana. Free evening (it will be possible and we will advise you where to spend the evening and the night in the many and various places available in the Blloku district).
7th Day – Breakfast at the hotel.
Departure to the city of Kruje, visit of this charming town (only 13,500 inhabitants) placed on the side of a mountain, Croia or Kruja in Albanian is the most important city of the Albanian resistance under the guidance of Gjergj Kastrioti “Scanderbeg” in 15 Century successfully fought the Ottomans for over 25 years. Visit the castle with shopping in the beautiful old bazaar. Climb up to the tower from where you can admire a splendid view of Kruja and its surroundings. From 1.30 to 2.30 pm free time for lunch, shopping, etc. .. Kruja Castle was built in the 4th century AD on the remains of a previous Illyrian settlement of the III century BC Towards midday transfer to Durazzo, where we have lunch in a good Italian restaurant by the sea on the Vollga promenade. After lunch we will visit Durazzo, the second largest city in Albania (about 220,000 inhabitants) and is home to the most important port in the country, an obligatory transit point for various cities in Albania. Durrës founded by the Illyrians in the XIII century BC, expanded considerably thanks to the tribe of the Taulants in the 9th century BC that made it the capital, it became an important Roman port (from the Romans it was also known as “Taverna dell’Adriatico”) of the which period boasts an interesting amphitheater of the time (the largest of the Balkans), in this period of greatest splendor of the city thanks to the “Via Egnatia” which connected the Adriatic with Constantinople became a strategic transit point for merchants and goods. Stroll through Durres to the historical sites of the city (Venetian Tower, Ottoman Walls to the Roman Amphitheater (the largest of the Balkans) and visit to the modern city (Bashkia Square, Spa, Promenade, Boulevard, Santa Lucia Catholic Cathedral).
In the evening return to the hotel in Tirana.
8th Day-Return to Italy.
Compatibly with the time available (depending on the departure times of the plane) we can take a ride on Mount Dajt with the longest cableway in the Balkans from which you can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of Tirana up to the waters of the Adriatic Sea.
Second choice would be an underground bunker of the dictator Hoxha (BunkArt) with a photographic and didactic journey inside, a true example of the dictatorship to which the country was subjected for almost 50 years). The bunker is inside a military base, to enter you need a permit that obviously we have and it winds underground for six floors, not a claustrophobic feeling because the corridors are spacious and high and is well ventilated, obviously feeling closed, the visit lasts about 30/45 minutes.
(Excluding ticket costs for cableways and BunkArt)
End of service
THE QUOTES INCLUDE
• – 7 nights in a standard double room with services in 4 * and 5 * hotels in all locations (in Permet hotel 3 *).
• – 7 buffet breakfasts in the hotel;
• – 7 Lunches as per program in restaurant including 0.33 l water. and 1 glass of wine or draft beer p.pax.) Coffee and bitters excluded.
• – 7 dinners as scheduled in the hotel’s on-site restaurant (including 0.33 liter water and 1 glass of wine or draft beer p.pax.) Coffee and bitters excluded.
• Internal transport with private driver-escort car and / or minivan and / or GT coach (depending on the number of participants) for the itinerary indicated in the program expert in the Albanian guide and well aware of the roads, the road network and its local problems .
• – Accompanist in Italian or Italian throughout the trip during the above-mentioned service hours, with good knowledge of the roads, the road network and its local problems.
• Transfer to and from airport and / or ferry for pre-arranged groups of over 20 people.
• Supplementary guides in Italian for visiting the following places, museums and archaeological sites.
Tirana: National Archaeological Museum.
– Berat: Castello, Onufri Museum ,.
– Apollonia: Apollonia archaeological site and archaeological museum.
– Saranda: Butrint Archaeological Site.
• Paid admissions included in the price.
1. Durrës: Archaeological museum and Roman amphitheater.
2. Tirana: National Historical Museum.
3. Berat: Castle, Onufri Museum.
4. Apollonia: Apollonia Archaeological Site and Archaeological Museum.
5. Porto Palermo: Castello di Alì Pasha Tepelene
6. Saranda: Butrint Archaeological Site.
7. Gjirokaster: Girokaster Castle.
8. Korça: Museum of Medieval Art, Museum of the first Albanian school.
9. Kruja: Skanderberg Museum inside the castle.
THE QUOTES DO NOT INCLUDE:
a) Ferry and flights to and from Italy to Albania.
b) Drinks at meals (except those mentioned in “the quotas include”).
c) Drinks, liqueurs, snacks etc … during the tours.
d) Medical insurance (obligatory) supplement € 20 pax.
e) Transfer to and from airport and / or ferry.
f) Personal extras and anything not expressly indicated under “the price includes”
g) Single room.
i) Anything else not expressly specified in the program.
50 pax €. 690 pax
40 pax €.720 pax
30 pax €. 780 pax
20 pax €. 875 pax