Francesco Zolli

Sarajevo gives rise to mixed feelings

Francesco Zolli, an Italian carpet maker, moved from Venice to Sarajevo in 2018. He came looking for peace and to learn how Bosnian carpets are made.


He visited our city for the first time in 2014, and came back a few times to visit his friend, Claudia Klara Zini, who has been living here since 2015.

- After someone close to me passed away, I wanted to go somewhere where I didn’t know many people. I recalled Sarajevo, and told myself I would spend some time here making carpets in peace.

In order to become better acquainted with BiH carpet producers and their work, Francesco spent time in Goražde with masters of this trade.

Concept stores

- I thought that Bosnian carpets, with their interesting motifs, were made with knots, like Persian carpets. However, they are woven, which leaves more room for creativity and improvisation.

Francesco would like for artists in Sarajevo to gather more often to show their work.

- Concept shops like Kutcha and Bazerdžan are interesting. Such places need to be active and offer something new all the time.

He sees Sarajevo as a city that gives rise to mixed feelings.

- Being landlocked and all tucked in makes it cozy and protective, like it’s beyond the world, as though time has stopped. On the other hand, it must be better connected to the world, with more direct flights, bus and train lines.

He finds the slow pace of life here uncommon, and it suits him.

- In Italy, I drink coffee on the go, but in Sarajevo I need ten minutes just to get the waiter’s attention. Boris Smoje Gallery and Vapiano have great espresso, and I’m keen to drop by Festina Lente Pub. Yet, even though I’m a smoker, the smoky bars bother me.

He asserts that life and death are mingled here, and, as proof, he cites the many cemeteries scattered throughout town and the war-damaged facades of buildings.

- When I want peace, I walk to Alifakovac Cemetery and stroll around Baščaršija at night or early in the morning.

He thinks that Palma best epitomizes the spirit of Sarajevo.

- The garden has palm trees and a fountain, just like in Las Vegas; inside you feel as if you’re in Vienna, and this cafe and nearby buildings have war-damaged facades, like you’re in Beirut.

He is keen to visit the National Museum and the War Childhood Museum, and thinks Sarajevo has great potential in the modern arts.

Skakavac and Promaja

He says some Sarajevo attractions aren’t promoted enough, there should be more signs, and better transport is needed to places like Skakavac Waterfall and Promaja Cabin (where he enjoys fritters and walnut brandy). He often visits the mountains around town, takes the cable car to Trebević, enjoys fresh air and the view from Kod Bibana Restaurant....

- I love MESS, SFF and Youth Theater, and I have an annual membership from Meeting Point Cinema.

For a perfect lunch, he recommends polenta at Dženita Aščinica, lamb and ravioli at Lovac, and nettle dishes at Žara iz Duvara.