It felt like my feet were walking on their own. My inner map brought me here.
The map of my heart. Tears rolling down my face in front of the door of Scuola degli Albanesi of Venice established in 1442 by Albanian immigrants. These walls remember the voices, songs, tears and hopes of my people. They remember their longing for home, which most of them never saw again.
A dream come true. I was dreaming of this moment for so many years. I left my heart in that narrow little street of magical Venice, where Albanian was spoken and sang hundreds of years ago.
Our blood flows in the veins of the entire world. And we never forget from where we came.
And everywhere I travel I find footsteps of my ancestors who left a trace. A trace of our unique history of resistance, pride, continuity and love.
The most prominent detail on the façade of The Albanian School of Venice, above the Virgin and child, shows the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II laying siege to the Albanian town of Shkodra. Ottoman historian Franz Babinger called the siege of Shkodra/ Scutari, ‘one of the most remarkable episodes in the struggle between the West and the Crescent.’
And it was indeed a miracle of resistance! 1600 men and women, resisted a huge Ottoman force (some chronicles mention numbers as high as 350.000), led by Mehmet II himself, who wanted to personally witness the triumph. In April 1478, after 19 days of constant attack on the walls of our beloved Rozafa castle, the Ottoman army retreated.
As I was trying very hard to capture every detail of the relief in that narrow street, I wished with all my heart that my father was next to me.