"A settlement amidst brakish swamps" Ishull-Lezhe by JLBG
Ishull-Lezhe Travel Guide: 20 reviews and 52 photos
Ishull Lezhë or Ishull I Lezhes, which means the Islands of Lezhë, is a small settlement 2 km south of the entrance into Lezhe. When driving from the south, a narrow road branches on the right, with a neat road sign “Ishull Lezhë”. It immediately turns right, passes under the main road and meanders between small houses, ponds, marshes, small fields, sometimes along a canal. Wetlands, this is what it is.
When I visited Albania in 1988, our group was brought to Ishull Lezhë and the wetlands for bird watching. After that, we had dinner at the luxury Count Ciano's former hunting lodge. What is Count Ciano’s former hunting lodge ?
I quote here the magazine “World Literature Today”, Spring, 2002, a paper by Robert Elsie:
One of the most surprising buildings in Albania is a wooden hunting lodge built in the marshlands of Lezha by Mussolini's foreign minister Count Ciano (1903-44). Ciano had intended it as a retreat, where the leaders of Fascist Italy could go bird-hunting in their newly acquired colony. It was used as a hotel complex during the Stalinist dictatorship (sorry Robert Elsie but Enver Hoxha's would be more correct than Staline's!) band survives today with its modestly surrealist Visconti decor as a rather out-of-place structure standing in the middle of an otherwise barren landscape. It is to the history of this lodge and the itinerary of a crime committed in it that "Le Chevalier au Faucon" (The Falcon Knight) is devoted, the first of three tales which make up the volume L'envol du migrateur (The Stork's Flight).
Count Ciano's former hunting lodge is an extensive one level complex built in stone and wood, with some outbuildings built in bricks painted stone color, nested in a lot of greenery. Altogether, it has the shape of an E. The longest part (the back of the E) should about 80-100 meters long. The branches of the E about 50-60 meters. That made a lot of housing !
When Enver Hoxha took power, the lodge became a recreational area for the big bosses of the regime. When he died and was replaced by Ramiz Alia, it was also used by Albturism as a restaurant for foreign visitors. When we had a group visit of Albania (individual travel was still forbidden) in 1988, we had lunch in the lodge. I have built a few tips on this visit.
When we visited Albania in 2005 and 2007, I had no information on this place, did not knew its name and would have been unable to find it, somewhere in the marshes, not far from Lezhë. When I prepared our 2009 trip, I found that it had been partly looted in 1997 but that in 2003, it had been partly rehabilitated and was now open as a restaurant and a hotel with only 3 rooms, "more to come in 2006" (the guide book had been printed in 2005). The guidebook wrote that, “in the middle of a green and peaceful environment, it offered a rudimentary comfort that will please lovers of rusticity”. It was run by Albturist under the name of Hotel Gjuetise.
Great, that was what we were looking for, we had to go there ! And we did it ! We had what we were looking for !
Important notice : I have built this page as a story, then, thank you to read it in author’s order!
In 1988, we visited a pheasant-rearing centre in the Ishull Lezhe area. It had been set up in 1977 using a French technology that Albanian ingeniers had borrowed after they had been sent (under Enver Hoxha regime!) abroad to visit several pheasant breeding facilities in the Loire Valley: There are indeed several such facilities, such as in Les Barres, Loiret departement or Faisanderie Badard in Bressuire, Sarthe departement. For many years up to 26 thousand pheasants a year were exported in the Italian and French markets but during the March 1997 unrest, the center was completely ruined. I have described it in my Rrethi i Lezhes General Tips.
Should I advise you to try Hotel Gjuetise ? Actually, it is up to you. I have fully described in several separate tips... more travel advice
The device shown on the photos is a kalimerre. During our 1988 visit, I saw a man using a small one, hand launched (... more travel advice
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