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Visiting Asmara, Africa’s most charming city

visit Asmara

Wide, palm-lined boulevards, art deco, more Fiat Cinquecentos than Italy itself and a great coffee scene: Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, might be the most charming city in Sub-Saharan Africa, a must-visit and particularly great city to explore

Dusty, noisy, chaotic, a lot of traffic and not much to do.

These are just some attributes that, according to travelers, unjustly or not, characterize most African capitals, infamous for being mere gateways to the natural wonders their respective countries offer.

This is not the case of Asmara, however, a capital that resembles a southern Italian town or even I’ll dare say, a colonialist Spanish town in Central America.

The fact is that Eritrea was under Italian rule from 1890 to 1941 and Asmara was the epicenter of Italian colonialism, a city that was transformed and created pretty much from scratch, following Italian patterns from the era and leaving behind a heritage composed of Italian modernist buildings, art deco, and colonial-era futurist architecture.