Anyone making a business trip to Tirana 20 years ago was in for a surprise if they ventured outside the comfort of the city’s hotels to see what was on offer. There was plenty of interest in the obvious sights – the derelict Piramida, built to honour Albania’s dictator, Enver Hoxha, or Skanderbeg Square, with its stately neo-Renaissance buildings – but there was something else, too. There was colour. And lots of it.
Albania had recently emerged from Hoxha’s repressive, quasi-Stalinist regime and Tirana’s mayor, Edi Rama – now the country’s 33rd prime minister – had celebrated by painting the town pink. And yellow. And lime-green. And, seemingly, just about any other bright colour that was available. Tirana’s buildings were making a statement. The millennium had dawned and the post- Soviet era was over.