SmugglersWe rewarded ourselves with a good lunch, full of home-made produce, at an agritourismo run by a former cigarette smuggler and his wife. He regaled us with his anecdotes. In the immediate post-war period Switzerland was relatively well-off but unable to buy fresh produce. Smuggling in the region started with gangs transporting fresh fruit and vegetables over the mountains to Switzerland. Contreband soon became a major economic activity, providing employment for young lads such as our host then was. When Switzerland got more direct access to fresh produce the smugglers swapped to cigarettes and changed direction, from Switzerland to Italy. They would sew up special back packs (in the picture) and hike overnight from Switzerland into the lakeside villages. (Our next-door neighbour remembers hearing them and their muffled voices as they stacked their packs under the arcades.) Especially-constructed low, fast motor boats would then transport the cigarettes down the lake to Como and Lecco and from there to Milano and Torino. The life was not without its dangers. Excise squads would hide in waiting up in the mountains. Shots were sometimes fired and sometimes men died. But our host never felt as free as he did then. And, as if echoing the hide-and-seek in the mountains, the young men, customs officers and smugglers, would at weekends dance alongside one another in the village dance halls and compete for the same girls.