Shkodra: A Pizza and A Fortress
Shkodra (pop 135,612)
Republic of Albania
Republika e Shqipërisë
May 11, 2015
Pizza. Pizza. Pizza!
Isn't there anything else to eat here in Northern Albania?
My driver, Mr. Edmond * and I search and search and search for some local or traditional Albanian fare along the main pedestrian promenade here in Shkodra (Shkodër). Finally we find an outdoor café and order, you guessed it, pizza. We also order a salad and a meatball dish that passes for “local” food.
It should come as no surprise to me that pizza is so popular. Albania and Italy have a long history together. And because of its location at the confluence of three rivers and its strategic hilltop fortress, Shkodra has always been a significant city.
Shkodra was the capital of the Illyrian state of Ardiaens from the Third Century BCE until the Roman conquest in 168 CE.
Shkodra was part of the Venetian Republic from 1396 until the Ottoman conquest in 1479.
During “communist times” many Albanians escaped across the Adriatic and Ionian Seas to Italy. And since independence and a democratic government, the Adriatic is much more “shrunken.” At its narrowest point, at the “heel of the boot” of Italy, the Strait of Otranto separates Italy and Albania by only 72km (45 miles). Albania and Italy are truly neighbors.
Almost all Shkodrans speak Italian.
So, it’s pizza and pasta and espresso for the foreseeable future. But I will be on the lookout for an Albanian specialty.
Paçe koke? Or kukurec?
* Mr. Edmond is the owner of the Hotel Nobel Tirana, a comfortable hotel with a convenient location. www.hotelnobeltirana.com