Sotira is the second village we visit following the photos with Klodian. It is a Greek minority locality on the border between Greece and Albania. Sotira was also occupied by the Italians. The road signs are bilingual greek-albanian. We are in the Dropull area, a predominantly Greek-inhabited region in Gjirokastër County. To get to the village from the main road, the bus driver calls the taxi driver Illir (from Illyria, the ancient name for Albania), who drives us to our destination. The school is right at the entrance to the village, and it is very well preserved, although closed by a gate. The school will soon become a museum.
A series of photos of my grandfather shows soldiers and locals, mostly children, posing in front of the camera. In 80 years only one other Italian has returned to the places, the son of a hierarch based there. Local men are in the public space doing public relations. The women, at home, are the guardians of memory. And of the wi-fi password.
THE PHOTO COLLECTION
My grandfather’s photo archive consists of amateur photos of informal daily life of the Italian army, photos of military exercises and gatherings, and several photos of civilians. Apart from the fascist propaganda images produced by the Istituto Luce, documents from the 40’s are actually rare. I am thinking for example of the collection of the Italian photographer Giuseppe Massani. In this photo my grandpa documents a few civilians in Sotira, especially children. I do not know who the subjects are, but I hope that by disseminating these photos the story will emerge.