Echoes of war above Menaggio

For a long time I had been intending to do the walk from Croce to the panoramic lookout point called La Crocetta. The views over Menaggio and the midlake area are legendary. So on a not-too-hot day last week, three of us parked in Croce by the church and set off on foot up the road that leads to the golf club. After a quarter of a mile there was a sharp left turn and we were soon in the woods.

The big surprise of this walk was the extensive trench system up there, that has been restored to show how soldiers in the first world war hunkered down to defend Menaggio and the lake area. The fortifications are part of the extensive Cadorna Line, named after General Cadorna and built to keep out a possible invasion by the Austrian-German forces from Swiss territory. Although the Swiss were ostensibly neutral, the top echelons of the Swiss military were thought to be German sympathisers and therefore there might be a stealth attack from the Swiss side.

I haven’t yet been able to find out whether the trenches above Lake Como were ever used in anger, but they certainly are very evocative of the time. You can almost see and hear the men in their alpine feather hats and leather breeches running up and down them.

It’s a great little walk (about an hour and a half there and back) and brilliant for children. But give them strict instructions not to overturn any stones lying on the ground – when I came back down I was told that there can be vipers in those woods.

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