Nature, sports, art, culture, events, shopping, fine cuisine and excellent wines: Lake Iseo is all this and much more. To help you discover this small jewel set in the Orobie Mountains, located halfway between Bergamo and Brescia, we have decided to suggest you the ten must-see places on Lake Iseo to help you get to
Nature, sports, art, culture, events, shopping, fine cuisine and excellent wines: Lake Iseo is all this and much more. To help you discover this small jewel set in the Orobie Mountains, located halfway between Bergamo and Brescia, we have decided to suggest you the ten must-see places on Lake Iseo to help you get to know and appreciate it all year round.
1. Tour of Lake Iseo
Let’s start with a delightful itinerary along the lakeshore for an first approach to Lake Iseo. 67 kilometres of emotions and breathtaking views on bicycle, by car, motorcycle or ferry to discover the villages looking onto the lake with exquisite panoramas in the midst of nature and art. The tour takes you less than two hours by car, and three or four hours by bicycle, whereas in summer you can enjoy the lake by ferry but it will take you half a day.
2. Natural reserves
Despite the fact that Lake Iseo extends over one of the most populated and productive areas in Italy, nature still plays a prevalent role in this territory. You will discover many natural areas along the shores of the lake. Do not miss a visit to the following three nature reserves:
Sebino Peat Bog – a small naturalistic paradise where many bird species choose to nest, there are itineraries to be explored surrounded by typical marshy flora and stretches of water covered with water lilies.
Erosion Pyramids of Zone – the erosional action of water and the protective properties of large rock masses have caused high columns of morainic terrain to form known as “pyramids”.
The Cold Valley – Located at an altitude between 350 and 700 meters above sea level, it shows a wide variety of plant species that are normally found at 1000 meters and more often at 1500 meters of height. This is due to the emission of freezing air from some “cold holes”.
3. Antica Strada Valeriana Route
In ancient times, the Valeriana Route was the only way to reach Valcamonica by land from the Brescian territory. Nowadays you can walk between Pilzone d’Iseo and Pisogne along the same routes used for trade, and by people and shepherds who drove their animals during the seasonal herding, enjoying spectacular landscapes and a unique view of the lake.
4. Lovere, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy
Since 2003 Lovere has been included in the prestigious club of “The most beautiful villages in Italy” for its outstanding and perfectly preserved artistic and architectural heritage. It was described as “the most romantic place I’ve ever seen in my life” by the English romantic writer Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Among the must-sees: the 15th century St. Mary’s Basilica in Valvendra, the Gallery of the Tadini Academy rich in work of arts such as the “Stele Tadini” and the “Religione” by Antonio Canova, the imposing Civic Tower with its interior impressive ascent, the Saints Gerosa and Capitanio’s Sanctuary and the Marina, among the largest and most modern port structures on a European lake.
5. Monte Isola, the largest lake-island in Europe
Monte Isola, the mountain on an island, is one of “The most beautiful villages in Italy” and is the largest inhabited lake island in Europe. There are 11 communities located on the slopes along the lakeshore, all picturesque and with a historic atmosphere where the arts and handcrafts of years gone by are still alive. Those who climb to the top of the island, to the height of the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola, can enjoy a 360° view of the lake where taking a photograph to share on social networks using the hashtag #visitlakeiseo is a must.
6. The Gorges at Riva di Solto and Castro
Along the road facing the lake, halfway between the picturesque villages of Riva di Solto and Castro, you can admire the evocative gorges spectacle, impressive vertical slabs of rocks dropping sheer to the lake. The most stunning is the “Bogn” gorge appearing in its breath-taking beauty in the area of Zorzino di Riva di Solto, with its creek, its sheer rocks and the crystal blue waters of the lake, flowing through the little stone beach.
7. Sarnico and the “Gianni Bellini” Art Gallery
The town of Sarnico is situated between the end of Lake Iseo and the beginning of Valcalepio. Its airy squares lakefront, shops and artistic and naturally beautiful surroundings make it a pleasant place to stay. In the heart of the old town, we find the Gianni Bellini Art Gallery, a 15th century building home to more than 150 works of art donated to the community by Don Gianni Bellini. However, Sarnico is also famous for the Riva Boatyards and its art nouveau villas designed by architect Sommaruga.
8. The ancient villages of Iseo and Pisogne
The town of Iseo, stretched along the shoreline, still maintains its old medieval hamlet conformation from which rises Oldofredi Castle, the baptismal church of Sant’Andrea and the centrally located Piazza Garibaldi. Pisogne is located only a few kilometres away. This community, featuring an historic centre that develops around Piazza Corna Pellegrini, is home to the church of Santa Maria in Silvis and the church of Santa Maria della Neve with frescoes by Romanino.
9. Romanesque architecture in the lower Lake Iseo area
Many Romanesque treasures are hidden amongst the hills overlooking Lake Iseo: from the churches of San Michelone and San Pietro in Tavernola Bergamasca, heading towards the complex of Sant’Alessandro in Canzanica in Adrara San Martino, and on to the church of San Giorgio in Credaro, where frescoes by Lotto are housed.
10. The thermal baths of the Roman Villa in Predore
Predore, a small village resting on the shores of Lake Iseo, for 1500 years has hidden the ruins of a spa facility dating back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD in the Roman era. It was surely sparkling back then, abounding with mosaics and representative of a specialised technique that has since been lost. Having recently undergone careful restoration, it can be visited at weekends.
With the thermal baths of the Roman Villa, we now close our top ten, created just for you with our personal experiences and the recommendations of those who have visited the lake.
Now you just need to discover it by yourself; if you like, we welcome your recommendations and suggestions. Have a great time!