Something about the residents, their habits, culture, economy including agriculture or any restaurants, tourism related information, something from the past?
Beyond the Qeparo coastline, a small bay is situated approximately 2.5 kilometers to the north, well protected from the winds, called Porto Palermo. This harbor is an ancient place: it has been known since antiquity as the Harbor of Epirote. The tribe of Kaon called it “Panormou,” and it has been mentioned by ancient Greek and Roman authors in various texts dating back to the fifth century BCE. The favorable geographic and strategic position of Porto Palermo was also used in the Middle Ages and especially in the nineteenth century by Ali Pasha, who built the famous hexagonal fortress of Porto Palermo. Ali Pasha constructed the fortress as an advanced bastion to be used in case of emergency departure westward, if the Ottoman forces were to attack him. The building was designed by two architects from Ioannina: one was an Albanian construction master and the other a French military engineer. On the main gate of the fort was a plaque with a warning from Ali Pasha: “who would dare to touch those walls the black snake will eat his eyes.”Also in the entrance to Porto Palermo bay sits a Christian Orthodox church built by Ali Pasha in the early nineteenth century. This site served as the place of the wedding ceremony as well as the coronation of Ali Pasha. The wedding guests were invited from the four corners of the Pashaluk (eyalet) and gathered in this place to celebrate the ceremony of marriage between Ali Pasha and Vasiliki, famous for her special graces, intelligence, and extreme loyalty to her husband even after his death, despite an age difference of over forty years. Their marriage remains as a symbol of harmony and religious coexistence in the cultural history of Albania, because Pasha was of Bektashi faith whereas his wife was Christian Orthodox.
A small harbor continues to operate in the bay of Porto Palermo where tourist yachts and fishing boats of the surrounding villages anchor
Of all of Ali Pasha’s various military and diplomatic achievements, the legend of his marriage persists as a definitional story. Pasha was a Bektashi Muslim and his wife Christian Orthodox. In a shocking move to his constituency, the Muslim monarch agreed to make the marriage ceremony inside the Christian chapel near the sea, which still stands today. No one can explain why Pasha left the capital, Ioannina (Janina), for this distant place. Perhaps it was the view! Or the relative remoteness from the bustling city. Nevertheless, when Ali Pasha entered through the huge crowd of wedding guests and curious people, he heard the commanding voice of the clergyman who said that the bridegroom should follow the orders and repeat his words. Pasha, who until then was not accustomed to command the others, was now being commanded by the provincial priest. Under the pressure of curious eyes of the participants, without waiting until the end of the Christian procedures of the ceremony, Pasha addressed to the priest with compelling and suggestive voice: “It seems that there is nothing else to be said!? The ceremony ended, right?” “Yes, yes,” muttered the shocked priest. Meanwhile, Pasha grabbed the arm of his bride, Vasiliki, and turned toward the exit door. While the crowd began chanting and throwing flowers over the couple, before reaching the door, Pasha swiftly drew a hidden pistol out of his band and fired toward the ceiling in a typically eccentric and rebellious move. The pistol’s bullet hit the corner of the marble cross standing on the altar, breaking a piece of it. That cross stood damaged for two centuries, until its repair in 1997.
Another legend of Ali Pasha tells the tale of the agave plants that line the steep hill behind the castle. It is told that Ali Pasha brought a plant from a distant and unknown land that had two special features and sowed it in the surrounding terrain of the fortress of Porto Palermo. Its numerous flowers filled the landscape around the castle in spring and the amount of latex that these plants periodically produce was numerous. This led to the legend that this milk was the breast milk of Vasiliki, the wife of Ali Pasha, who never bore children with Pasha.