Once-isolated locals take day trips to Italy

First the ferry connection to Italy and then the Egnatia Highway have helped this small town of around 15,000 inhabitants emerge from isolation and become a gateway to, and from, the rest of Europe. Tourists passing through and trucks carrying goods crowd the port every day, especially in summer. The visitors are not only Italians and other Europeans but also locals who cross the water on the way to Ancona, Bari and Venice. Most locals are used to boarding the ferry in the evening, going shopping in Italy the following morning and coming back later the same day, something which their forebears, who were relatively cut off from the world, could never have imagined doing. This sociability has developed on the sidelines of what are serious problems caused by uneven development. Igoumenitsa bears some resemblance to a Scandinavian seaside town, not because of its architecture or town planning, but because of the lush green slopes that surround it and the deep blue water of the Ionian Sea. In the 1990s, the dense green forests embracing the city suffered damage from fires, but luckily were saved and the burnt area was reforested. The lush greenery partly compensates for the chaotic development, lack of infrastructure and absence of worthwhile architecture, endowing the Thesprotian capital with color and beauty.