A mountain in the middle of the lake, considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Monte Isola has a total area of 4.5 square kilometres, a circumference of about 9 km and an altitude of 600 metres. There are twelve typical hamlets, some on the hills, and others on the lake, characterised by narrow streets and alleys to demonstrate the fundamental role that this had in the economy of the island, always based on the construction of wooden boats, the production of nets and fishing.
The island is all to be seen, on foot, by bicycle or with the small buses that provide a regular service.
The island outline is characterised by the Martinengo Fortress and the sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola. The fortress, visible halfway up the hill above Sensole, was built in the 14th century by the Oldofredi family; its tower is unusually placed in the centre of the castle, surrounded by a moat. Despite its warlike appearance, the building was transformed into a residence by the Martinengo family in the 15th century.
On the summit stands out the white sanctuary built, in ancient times, on the remains of a pagan building.
The capital, Siviano, preserves medieval traces in the stone walls, the narrow alleys and the Martinengo tower. Peschiera Maraglio is the most easily reachable village and offers, on the lakeside, restaurants, amenities and shops. The small hamlet of Carzano preserves its characteristics linked to the water. The town hosts, every five years, the feast of the Holy Cross, which sees it, together with the historic centre of Novale, entirely decorated with thousands of paper flowers.
NOT TO BE MISSED
Panoramic view from the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola – Accessible from any location on the island, on foot or by minibus (in summer there are dedicated shuttles), the sanctuary offers a unique 360-degree view of the lake. Refreshments and picnic area available.
The Net and Memories Museum – Located in the small village of Porto di Siviano, inside the oldest netting factory of Monte Isola, the museum is a private collection of documents, historical black and white photographs and objects about the world of netting and fishing.
EXCURSIONS AND WALKS
The olive trees walk – The most picturesque road on the island is certainly the lakeside stretch between Peschiera Maraglio and Sensole with a view of the privately-owned island of San Paolo. On the path, surrounded by olive trees, it is possible to stop in a pleasant picnic area with access to the lake and facilities. With no shortage of bars, ice-cream parlours and restaurants. (approximately 2 km – Distance time 30 min)
Island tour – Peschiera Maraglio is usually the starting point for exploring the island. Following the coastal road clockwise, a walk through the olive groves reaches Sensole, then the road becomes steeper and leads to the town of Menzino, where the Rocca Oldofredi-Martinengo stands majestically. Continuing northwards it is possible to reach Siviano, the capital of the island, a fortified hamlet in the Middle Ages, with tower houses and narrow streets. From there, a descent leads to Carzano, from where it is possible to see the island of Loreto. After resuming the coastal road, the route ends by returning to Peschiera Maraglio (approximately 9 km – Travel time 2h30).
Trekking to the Sanctuary – A challenging climb (path no.1) leads from the centre of Peschiera Maraglio to the ancient village of Cure, known for the artisanal production of “Salame di Monte Isola”. From Cure, a cobbled road leads in twenty minutes to the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola, overlooking the mountain from above and offering a breathtaking view (4 km – 1 hour and 30 minutes).
TOUR OF THE THREE ISLANDS
A boat tour to discover the islands of S. Paolo, Monte Isola and Loreto, starting from the pier of Sulzano. Discover the characteristic hamlets of Carzano, with the villas of Novali and Soardi, where every five years the fascinating Festival of Santa Croce (next 2020) is held, Porto di Siviano, with Villa Solitudine and Sensole, from which it is possible to see the ancient Rocca Martinengo.
HOW TO GET THERE
Ferries to/from Monte Isola – the scheduled ferry service is active every day of the year with a frequency of 15 minutes from the ports of Sulzano to Monte Isola-Peschiera Maraglio and 20 minutes from Sale Marasino to Monte Isola-Carzano. Info: Navigazione Lago d’Iseo
Boats to/from Monte Isola – the regular boat service operates annually from the ports of Iseo, Sale Marasino, Sulzano and Tavernola Bergamasca. It is possible to reach the island from all coastal locations from the end of March to October.
Info and timetables: Navigazione Lago d’Iseo