30 July, 2011
Ioannina is an interesting and pleasant town on the shores of a lake with an island (Nisi) that has frequent ferry boat rides (for 2 euros). Ali Pasha was an interesting guy who ruled this area and north to Albania, including Corfu at one time, in the early 19th century. He was born in Tepelena, near Gjrokastra (Albania), where I visited his castle. He was also called “The Lion of Ioannina”. Apparently a friend of George Gordon (Lord Byron). What an odd couple. This whole large area was once the Despotate of Epirus. Despot was a word that doesn’t have quite the negative connotations it does now. All rulers were pretty much despots to our modern way of thinking. Ali Pasha probably wasn’t so bad. At least Byron didn’t think so. Admittedly he did blot his copybook by having Christian women tied in sacks and drowning them in the lake, like kittens. But nobody’s perfect. He was supposed to be ruling on behalf of the Ottoman Empire but got too uppity and independent. They dismissed him, but he tried to hold on. They tricked him by pretending to deliver a pardon to the island on the lake where he was holed up (in the building in my pic, now a museum) They shot him there and cut off his head, delivering it to the Sultan. Live by the sword, die by the sword.