Beach in Vlore, Albania. Golden sands, blue sea and hills rising from the side of the beach. Image by Valter Zhara on Pexels

Albania is the new hot spot for Italian tourists

News Travel & Tourism

PM Giorgia Meloni heads to Albania to find out why Italians are giving Puglia the boot for the neighbouring country. She also picks up an unpaid restaurant bill.

Meloni was praising the beauty of Puglia one minute, then hopping on a packed tourist ferry to Albania the next. Why the fleeing of Italian shores? To discover why so many Italians are giving Puglia the boot for Albania just across the Adriatic Sea.

Italian officials have been annoyed by this desertion of Italy for the cheaper country, whose beaches rival Italy’s own.

The Albanian prime minister, Edi Rama, added fuel to the fire after bragging on social media about the “invasion” of “almost half a million” Italian tourists. Rama then extended an invitation to Meloni, who spent a few hours with her daughter and partner at his seaside home.

“She came [off the ferry] with a big bunch of Italians who seemed very proud of their special travel companion and were shouting it as she disembarked,” Rama told the Guardian. “What’s great about Giorgia is that she is authentic and very direct – what you see is what you get. Her first words after I accompanied her to the place she stayed were: ‘My, how beautiful this city is!’”

Why are Italians heading to Albania?

Albania has been shaking off the bad image which emerged after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Now Italians and other Europeans are flocking there due to its cheap prices and beautiful scenery.

Holidaymakers have had to foot the bill for extortionate sun lounger costs on Italian beaches for decades. There are few beaches in Italy where there aren’t concessions. This makes it difficult to find somewhere to actually lie on a beach for free.

The average cost of renting two loungers and an umbrella for the day is between €35 and €50 a day in Puglia. Compare that to Albania, where the average costs is more in the region of €10.

Meloni settles restaurant bill unpaid by Italian tourists

However, the cheap loungers and restaurants in Albania were clearly still too much for some Italian tourists who left a restaurant in Berat without paying.

At the instructions of Meloni, the Italian embassy in Tirana on Friday settled the unpaid Italian restaurant bill.

“On the instructions of the Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, we have settled the bill left unpaid by a group of Italian tourists at a restaurant in the city of Berat,” announced the embassy in a statement.

“Italians,” the embassy statement concluded, “respect the rules and pay their debts, and we hope that such episodes will not be repeated”.

The embassy also stressed the money came from Meloni’s personal funds.

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