ITALIAN TRAVELERS IN ALBANIA

Teuta Sula

Abstract


Albania has been visited by lots of foreign travellers ever since ancient times. The Balkan country’s strategic geographical position, as well its economic, political and social development over centuries have attracted the attention of foreign trekkers, both from neighbouring and distant countries. Travellers who visited Albanian-inhabited regions as diplomatic emissaries, religious missionaries, war strategists, special envoys, scientists, artists and so on, occasionally, also for mere travel purposes in order to visit exotic countries and peoples, left behind a legacy of quite impressive travel writings. Those kind of writings are not pure texts, from a genre (literary) viewpoint, accordingly, the same traveller, namely their travel writings, may be a study “property” of the historical, geographical, literary, ethnographical sciences, among others. On the other hand, descriptions in the travel writings feature the traveller’s own personal experiences, thus, unfolding them through the traveller’s subjective and fictional prism. The subject matter of travel writings is also quite important nowadays to Albanians due to the mere character of historical information that travellers impart, having known and understood Albania and the Albanian society first-hand, and also from the viewpoint of shaping Albania’s image in the eyes of foreigners. The research was triggered by Udhëtarët e huaj në Shqipëri (gjer në fund të shek. XIX) [Foreign travellers to Albania) (until the end of XIX century], a book written by Albanian author Lumo Skëndo (also known as Mit'hat Frashëri), whose publication was prepared by Albanians scholars L. Malltezi and Sh. Delvina, Tirana, 1999. Intending to further enrich and complement that publication, this research paper targets to create a typology of travels undertaken by Italians who visited Albania, from the earliest treks on record until 1912, when Albania declared its independence after almost five centuries under Ottoman rule.

Keywords: Albania, Italian travellers, traveller’s texts, typology.


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