Today, the dog took us for a walk along a stretch of the Via dei Monti Lariani, a system of footpaths and muletracks running halfway up the mountains alongside the Lago di Como. The prizewinner for spectacular views is the Alta Via, where the track is never really below 2000 metres. The Via dei Monti, on the other hand, runs along around 1000 to 1500 metres (in the picture, 1200), sports some pretty spectacular views itself and is, when it comes to old pathways, the Real McCoy. For the Via dei Monti was, for a long time, the ancient equivalent of a Route Nationale. You wouldn’t want to be down by the lakeside, where there were bogs and marshes and rivers to be crossed. Up here, the rivers are all still rivulets, even when flush with snowmelt, and the path is low enough to avoid all but the worst of the snow. To echo Toad of Toad Hall, it was the only way to travel.