Silvi's place is looked after by her father Mihel, who greets guests promptly and warmly, living in a separate house on the same premises, and is available for any sudden needs. Silvi herself responds to messages with a good knowledge of the neighbourhood and its people. The self-contained room is comfortable, with provision for basic cooking, and the window looks onto a lush walled garden. The neighbours are quiet and courteous. I tried to blend in, but I think I was the only tourist here so I probably didn't.
According to Edmund Spencer, the once teeming fortress town of Bassania was reduced under years of Ottoman rule to melancholy, with fig trees taking root in ancient masonry. The narrow streets of the garrison are currently under renovation; a thunderstorm can inundate them in minutes, but resourceful and considerate locals quickly improvise stepping stones to Help you through the mire. The roadworks are progressing, but meanwhile sensible shoes are essential outdoors.
For a city of its size and history, Elbasan makes little formal effort to attract tourists, but I was met everywhere with peerless hospitality, and it's easy to imagine the castle area becoming a busy resort. The Ottoman polyglots are all but gone, but could soon return. Silvi's father speaks Italian better than me but was easy to follow. As I awaited my bus after checking out, I took a coffee with three locals in the portico of a spectacular old hammam, now a quiet bar. One of them was showing off his knowledge of English and Spanish. He might need them sooner than he thinks.
Thank you Silvi, and Mihel, for an excellent stay. Elbasan might not remain a secret from foreign visitors for much longer. But let's hope it keeps its character.