Lake Como in autumn

From Argegno we took a cable car through a fine mist to Pigra. Como is quiet in the autumn. We had the viewing platform to ourselves, but all we could see were dark suggestions of hills in the distance. As we passed by an old wash house we fell into step with a group of well dressed middle aged Italians. My son half hid behind his mother, while my daughter beamed and cooed on my back. They said ciao and wandered down into a copse of trees. We saw them rooting through the leaves and turned back to investigate – our minds on fungi. It was walnuts. With a good bag full we set into the woods heading for the old Roman road and Colonno. The woods were cool and damp and we kicked through the leaf fall picking up hazelnuts and chestnuts. ‘Look dad’, barely discernable amongst the leaves, was a black salamander with bright orange marking – my first sight of a fire salamander. The path took us past various small settlements. Houses only accessible by quad bike with generators humming in sheds. Rounding the rough cobbles in a reasonably large community of houses we come upon a man skinning a hair. My son stares with amazement, its lean dark body hangs from a spike, as the man pulls down hard on the skin of the steaming shape. Later as we sit by the side of the roman road slicing cheese onto bread the man passes us, thumbs up, on his motorbike.

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