Capital of the lake, a lively commercial and touristic town, Iseo has kept the ancient medieval village layout with its characteristic structure of alleys and tower houses. It stands out for its elegant shops, numerous restaurants and various opportunities for sports activities.
WHAT TO SEE
For history and art lovers, Iseo offers interesting encounters: Piazza Garibaldi, surrounded by buildings with arcades, is home to the first monument erected in Italy to Garibaldi (1883), the Town Hall (1830), formerly Palazzo dei Grani, a work by architect Vantini and the church of Santa Maria del Mercato (14th century).
Oldofredi Castle (12th century), ancient fortress, is an imposing stone structure overlooking the town. The castle is now a venue for cultural events and home to the Two Wars Museum (temporarily closed). Nearby, not to be missed, is the Madonna della Neve Sanctuary (17th century).
Pieve di Sant’Andrea, of ancient origins, has a façade characterized by the Romanesque central bell tower. It is home to a “St. Michael the Archangel” by Francesco Hayez. The church of San Silvestro from the 13th century is found on the same square: the apse has been frescoed with a “Macabre Dance”.
Palazzo dell’Arsenale, originally an armoury and later a merchant warehouse, is now a venue for art exhibitions.
NOT TO BE MISSED
Friday market – On Friday from 8 am to 1 pm, the historic centre is the stage for the largest and most important market of Lake Iseo and Franciacorta, declared by the Lombardy Region “a market of particular value”.
Clusane, a gastronomic village – An ancient fishing village, south of Iseo, dominated by the imposing Carmagnola Castle (14th century), Clusane is a renowned gastronomic centre with several restaurants specialising in lake fish cuisine. The typical dish is baked tench with polenta, to which an event in July is dedicated.
TOURS AND WALKS
Boat tour – From the port there are regular boat trips and cruises on the lake to explore Monte Isola, the two smaller islands and the other coastal resorts. The pier is located just outside the main square.
Info and timetable: Navigazione Lago d’Iseo
Ancient Valeriana Road – A walking itinerary that starts in Pilzone, a small hamlet north of Iseo. The historic route which is about 25 km long and one of the most panoramic and scenic of the lake, reaches Pisogne, passing through meadows, ancient villages and small rural churches. We recommend that you visit it in sections using also the ferryboat service or regional railway during the journey.
Torbiere del Sebino Natural Reserve – Located south of Iseo, between the lake and Franciacorta, the reserve is a small natural paradise where many species of birds nest. The pleasant itinerary is surrounded by the typical marshy flora and by water ponds covered with water lilies in summer. Halfway along, the Monastery of San Pietro in Lamosa (11th century) awaits a visit.
HOW TO GET THERE
By train – Iseo is served by the Brescia-Iseo-Edolo regional railway line which, crossing Franciacorta, connects the city to the eastern shore of Lake Iseo and the Camonica Valley. The train station is a 5-minute walk from the centre and the pier. Info and timetable: Trenord
By bus – The Brescia-Iseo-Edolo line is also served by buses, but the railway line is more convenient and frequent. The main stops are in via Mier and via Roma. Info and timetables: FNM Autoservizi
The bus is the only option to reach Sarnico and the Bergamo shore, as an alternative to the boat. The bus stop is in via Gorzoni. Info and timetable: Arriva Italia