Montisola is the largest lake island in Europe. On the island you will feel as if you have gone back in time since there are no cars, except for the priest’s, the doctor’s and the mayor’s. The only vehicles allowed on the island are a public bus, motorbikes belonging to residents and bicycles, which can be ferried across or rented on site.
Montisola is linked to the mainland by a ferry service and the handiest and closest point from which you can reach the island is Sulzano. Here you can catch the ferry to Peschiera Maraglio, an old village of fishermen and craftsmen where fishing and hunting nets are produced. This village is very characteristic with the 17th-century church of St. Michael (S. Michele) and its ancient lanes which climb steeply up towards the mountain. From here you can take two routes: one goes round the island, the other heads north to the end of the island.
The first may be taken all year round by following the road to Sensole which skirts the island to the south, amidst lovely olive-trees. To the north you will see the 15th-century Rocca Oldofredi (later Martinengo) and to the south the small island of S.Paolo, where a Cluniac monastery once stood in the 11th century but which has now been replaced by a villa. As you walk up towards Menzino you will go past Sinchignano, with its 17th -century church of St.Charles (S. Carlo) and then Siviano, where you will find the town hall and the Martinengo Tower. Going down to the lake towards the harbour, you will see the 16th-century Villa Ferrata, now restored. At the “La Rete” Association there is a net and fishing museum. Once past Siviano, you walk parallel to the island’s northern side, opposite the little island of Loreto, with its picturesque “castle” which in actual fact is a villa built on the site of a 14th-century convent.
The road then goes down to Carzano before returning to Peschiera.
The other route from Peschiera takes you northwards through the village, until you start going up the scenic road to Senzano. From here you carry on to Cure, going past the stations of the Cross which lead to the Madonna della Ceriola Sanctuary (17th century), founded on a much more ancient chapel. In the church you can see a painting of the Madonna and 16th-century frescoes, such as the “Ecce Homo”. There are also many votive tablets, evidence of long-standing devotion. The sanctuary offers a panoramic view from the top of the island over the whole of Lake Iseo.
On the island you can not drive cars and motorcycles are reserved for residents. You can know the entire Monte Isola using the public service bus that connects all the villages, walking or cycling by bike between slopes and descents or along the shore by boat.
On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, a shuttle bus service runs from 10.00 am to 6.30 pm. It leaves from the Peschiera Maraglio Pier 1 and leads to the small village of Cure, from where the trail leads in a few minutes to the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola.