Many books about Albania begin with a quotation attributed to Edward Gibbon to the effect that Albania ‘is a country which within the sight of Italy is less known than the interior of America’.1 I have been unable to trace this quotation either within The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in Gibbon’s Autobiography, or his numerous letters and journals, but one can see its aptness 200 years ago when Italy was part of the grand tour and America unexplored. Today, thanks to easy communication and the television screen, the interior of America is now fairly well known to people all over the world, whereas the south-east corner of Italy is oddly inaccessible although not as inaccessible as Albania which it faces. One hears blasé tourists saying that they were thinking of going to Brazil or Belize or even Brindisi and Bari because they were bored of the Bahamas and Barbados; one rarely finds such tourists boasting that they were thinking of going to Albania. For a variety of reasons Albania has retained its reputation for being mysterious, unknown and unapproachable, even though the global village has shrunk, and formerly remote parts of the world like Australia and California have become all too familiar.
KeywordsAlbanian Population Grand Tour Western Balkans Late Medieval Period Numerous Letter
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- 3.E. Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Oxford, 1906) vol. 7, pp. 171–5.Google Scholar