Off the radar, wild and unspoiled: this is how Përmet , an ancient stone town located on the banks of the Vjosa, one of the most important and clear rivers of the Balkan peninsula , presents itself to visitors . A destination still far from mass tourism, an ideal stop for those in search of relaxation and want to spend a few days surrounded only by nature . A little less than three hours of road separates it from the chaotic capital Tirana, a slow, unhurried journey through unspoiled nature between rivers, forests, canyons and fields, where it is easy to be amazed at every turn. People come here to do a full immersion in the green and be pampered by the warm waters of Banjat and Benjës, the natural baths of Benjë 10 kilometers from the city, famous since ancient times for their precious healing properties, considered by specialists to be among the best in Europe. The scenery is postcard-worthy: the bright turquoise waters flow into natural pools along the Langaricë canyon – which can be walked on a 5 km hike through springs and small pools of sulphurous water – a stone’s throw from a bridge built in the Ottoman era . In the background, the mountains.
Upon returning to the city, visit the ancient churches of San Nicola , dating back to the mid-1700s, and of Good Friday , from the second half of the 1700s, or go as far as the Church of Santa Maria a Leusë , a stone jewel built in 1700 on the remains of a pre-existing building of the sixth century, just outside the center. The road to reach it is rough, so the ideal is to join the jeep excursion organized by the Permet Adventure team that leads to the discovery of the unexplored surroundings of the city, including the religious building. Then, it is time to dedicate some of your time to discover the renowned local gastronomy : some of the typical culinary products, such as the famousgliko, made with fruit, are protected by nothing less than Slow Food. A short walk through the narrow streets of the city and then straight onto the large rock, Guri i Qyteti, from which you can admire Përmet and the incredible shades of the Vjosa river from above.
The river is the undisputed protagonist of this wild region of Albania, where the possibilities for outdoor activities are numerous and getting bored is impossible. Among all, the most fun experience to participate is rafting along the Vjosa with Vjosa Explorer , between March and November. Together with the certified guides, you cross the crystalline waters of the last wild river in Europe, pass islets, canyons, narrow passages between rocks and stone arches, to immerse yourself in a pure and uncontaminated landscape. Woods, ponds and paths hidden among the trees. The impact of man here is minimal. This is the kingdom of nature.
By Francesca Massoti