I am fortunate enough to be living in a coastal town in these days of a scorching Saharan heat-wave. Not that I’m at the beach, for it is just too crowded for my taste, but because here, unlike Tirana, there’s a gentle breeze flowing from the Adriatic even on the hottest days.
Just when I feel my skin burning and dry, a gentle breeze flirtatiously comes and caresses my sunburned shoulders and neck, only to run away, leaving me wanting more and thus prolonging my sitting out on the front lawn in desperate hope of its return. And I sit here burning ever more.
Oh, and the place gets an extra plus for no humidity. Yay Durres for its climate!
It is 40C today.
I am dedicating my first post here in Albania to my hometown of Durres, an ancient city situated on the eastern Adriatic sea, about 136 milesfrom the shores of Italy. A once-important Illyrian trading-post, that successively passed through Corinthian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman rule.
I no longer recognize this city save for the sea, which no man can touch……yet. Durres has become undone. And I really want to address this issue, as its mayor, and its population seem to not care. But first let me clarify what I mean by undone, and provide you with some facts about this once-Roman colony.
Durres is one of the most ancient and pivotal ports of the Mediterranean world, both ancient and contemporary. It was here that the Roman Via Egnatia, the route that connected Rome to Constantinople, began: if one does some research while here, one may still find traces of that ancient route. It was in Durres where Ceasar (Julius, that is) chased, cornered and defeated Pompeii in a duel. It was in Durres where the classical historian Catulus felt at home and coined the city The Tavern of the Adriatic. Lastly, it is in Durres where the biggest Roman amphitheater of the region (Southeast Europe/Balkans) is housed. In addition, the town is home to many antiquities – from mosaics, to underground Roman baths, sculptures, art and artifacts- housed in the town’s Archaeological museum – a monstrous edifice of no architectural merit.
And, of course, there’s the beach – the largest and most congested in the country.
With that backdrop in mind, I will now with a heavy heart illustrate how the city has been systematically and deliberately destroyed – in the most common sense of the word. …..TO BE CONTINUED…