A hands-on experience with the living tradition of Gjirokastra – be Gjirokastrian for a while. This Tour is designed to last 7 days. The visitors will experience features and aspects of daily life, culinary, heritage sites, in UNESCO Gjirokastra and its rural area.

Day 1 Gjirokastra at first sight – a Chronicle in Stone

Starting time 09.00

Introduction to the history and heritage of Gjirokastra

  • Visit the Castle and the Gjirokastra Museum.

Ancient handicrafts and artisan traditions of Gjirokastra

  • Meeting artisans and handmade souvenir producers in the Medieval Bazaar
  • Shopping for personalized souvenirs

Tasting the mastery of Gjirokastra home cooking

  • Lunch with homemade food in a typical historic house,
  • Tasting traditional dishes of Gjirokastra: qifqi and hoshaf

Written in Stone : the unique architecture of the Gjirokastra

  • Walk upon the unique cobblestone streets
  • Medieval Bazaar, Palorto neighborhood, and meeting a stone-carving master
  • Socializing with the locals

Ottoman-style Gjirokastra houses and life in the past

  • Visit the tower house of Zekate and meet the family
  • Visting the Babameto House,
  • An example of revitalization in the effort to save the stone city

Evening of entertainment and traditional dinner at the 19th century Babameto House

  • Cooking, dancing, and singing together
  • Iso-polyphonic singing, traditional dance, and local jokes and anecdotes

Day 2 Life in Gjirokastra – the challenge of saving the historic city

Starting time 09.00

Visiting the Skenduli House

  • The challenge of preservation and keeping the authenticity

A visit to the newly restored home of the most famous Albanian writer: Ismail Kadare

  • The architecture and life of Kadare’s hometown,

Traditional dresses and costumes

  • Visit the Ethnographic Museum and meet a senior artisan who works on costumes

Lunch from a traditional wood stove

  • Lunch cooked together
  • Three local recipes prepared for guests with written recipes to take home

Iso-polyphony: the UNESCO-listed Art of Singing

  • Meeting an Iso-polyphonic group
  • Learning some traditional dance

Relaxation

  • Visit the “Mother of the Waters” source and lake park
  • Walking/cycling/driving 4 km from Gjirokastra
  • Dinner at “Freskia”, restaurant by the lake

Day 3 – A day in the Gjirokastra Countryside

Starting time 09.00

Traveling through picturesque Drino Valley, its rich history and villages

  • Amazing landscape overlooking the Drino Valley
  • Ancient heritage and rural life

Visit the Archaeological Park of Antigoneia

  • The ancient town Antigoneia of famous King Pyrrhus of Epirus a city built by his love and burnt by the hatred of his enemies
  • Tasting the genuine natural food of the Saraqinisht village
  • A picnic on- site

Visiting the village of Saraqinisht and Saint Nicolas church built in 1666

  • Meeting Albanian and Aromanian local communities a Latin speaking people native to the southern Balkans

Life in countryside

  • Visit Karjan village and the garden of Krisafi family
  • A dinner made exclusive from the family garden products
  • Visit Krisafi family’s garden
  • Choose your fresh vegetables for dinner in the family garden
  • Taste dhalla, homemade raki (strong alcoholic distillation of grapes) and more

Day 4 –Albania’s inter-religious harmony and religious heritage in the Gjirokastra region

Starting time at 09.00

Bektashi Muslim Order, its mysticism, and rituals

  • Visit the Bektashi Monastery at Melan

Visit Libohova

  • Have a drink under the 220-years-old monumental Plane Tree

Lunch at Libohova

  • Local delicacies from chef Sedat

The village named after the Holy Cross

  • Visit Labova e Kryqit village and the Cross Church (13th c) socializing with the locals at the square of the village

Tour of other religious buildings in Gjirokastra city

  • The Mosque of the Bazaar, Mechite Mosque, and Saint Sotira Church
  • Dinner : on your own

Day 5 – In the footsteps of Lord Byron and warrior leader, Ali Pasha of Tepelena

Starting time 09.30

Visit to the town of Tepelena, the castle of Ali Pasha and the cable-stayed bridge at Vjosa River.

  • Stop at Bënça
  • Visit the Aqueduct built by Ali Pasha

Lunch at the Cold Water sources near Vjosa river

  • Visit a farm in the valley (Humelica) and taste traditional drinks

Isolation and Paranoia under Communism

  • Visit to the Cold War Tunnel under the Castle and the Armament’s Museum
  • Meeting with two locals who tell their different stories about life under Communism

Optional visit at the standing bridge of the Ali Pasha

  • Part of aqueduct built for supplying water to the castle

A walk in the upper part of Gjirokastra: Dunavat neighborhood

  • Dinner at Kuka tavern

    Day 6 –Old routes to the Sea- Butrint UNESCO World Heritage Site

Starting time 09.30

Following the Drino river Valley and drive through Muzina Pass

  • In the trails of the ancient caravan routes to the sea through a picturesque landscape full of history and archaeology

A stop at Ksamili at the coast in front of Corfu Island

Enjoying the coast view and telling the story:

  • A new small town established first in the communist era, Ksamili, was intended to be a “proud window” of the regime as a splendid example of the “voluntary” work of the youth – it is not

Visit the National Park of Butrint, and one of the most fascinating archaeological sites in the Balkans.

  • The archaeology and nature of Butrint forge a unique combination of ancient ruins,Mediterranean forests, and salted lakes

Lunch at the seaside

  • Local fish and mussels from the lake will be on the menu of the day
  • Crossing the Vivari Channel and meeting the local community at Xarra and Shëndëlli village

On the way back to Gjirokastra stop at:

  • Monastery of Mesopotam (11th c. AD)
  • Blue Eye water sources.
  • Dinner organized at Terihat village in the Drino Valley where the Greek minority lives
  • A fine restaurant with some traditional Greek flavor

Day 7 –Vjosa treasures – Vjosa is the last wild river in Europe

Starting time 09.00

Visit the hot springs of Lengarica

  • The springs are almost in a natural state
  • The sulphurous water temperature is 26-320 C (79-900 F)
  • and is highly appreciated for its remedial qualities
  • Bathing in the hot springs and walk along the canyons of the river

Visit the Bënja village and its medieval Saint Mary Church

  • The village has recently been declared a Protected Historic Area by the Albanian government
  • Organised lunch in the area of Bënja National Park
  • Picnic besides the river
  • Afternoon visit in the town of Përmet
  • The city of flowers and of typical “saze” music

Meetings with artisans and traditional food producers of the ProPermet Association

  • Taste the jams and sweets of Përmet (the famous Gliko)

Organized dinner with a local family

  • Enjoy food in a traditional courtyard with traditional music

No of people: 5-12
Activity: 9 hours
Accommodation: Babameto House or similar. Traditional breakfast included.

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