Yesterday I went on what was possibly the most stunning walk of my entire life. I was going to say “most beautiful” but then my national pride rose up and stopped me. I don't mind saying, though, that Italy does “stunning” better than any other country I know. I don't think the pictures even do it justice – I think I need to find the “bright sunlight” setting on my camera!
The walk was in the mountains above the Lago di Lecco, which is a branch of Lake Como. As soon as we got out of Milan, we could see the mountains in the distance, and at 7am, it was only a two hour drive.
On the way home, though, it was a different story. One thing that I find strange about Italy is the way that the most naturally beautiful bits of it are so full of people. It's as if somebody took the Highlands, put them somewhere withing commuting distance of London and added a whole lot of sunshine. (The population density of Lombardy is 372 per square kilometre, while in the Highlands, it's 8!) It's not a bad thing as such, but it takes some getting used to. In Scotland, you can come down from the mountains on Sunday evening and your biggest problem is likely to be a flock of sheep that won't get off the road. In Lombardy,you will encounter the entire population of Milan returning from their weekend retreats and have to queue for an hour to get on the motorway.
I reckon what the mountains in Italy need is more bad weather, single track roads and a whole lot of midges.