It will not be as big as Lake Garda, "noble" as the Maggiore (and its historic villas), famous all over the world as the Lario (Lake Como), made even more prestigious by Alessandro Manzoni first and then George Clooney. Yet trust me: that ofIseo is perhaps the most scenic lake in all of Lombardy.
The Iseo lake
It is located halfway between Brescia and Bergamo, and if you arrive from the latter just before you pass another lake, the one Endine: very small yes, but just as delicious. Its best feature is that it remained naturally intact, that is, well set among valleys, woods and mountains that are reflected in its waters, without too many bricks or cement around it. In winter it is common for the surface to freeze, and that the locals enjoy walking and skating on it (with what courage it is not known, if you want to try, we recommend that you inform yourself first about the ice conditions).
Bossico, the "little Rome"
After passing Endine, in the direction of Lovere, you will arrive straight on the shores of Lake Iseo. Our advice, however, is not to stop here and go up – literally – along the road that leads to Bossico (Bg), an almost unknown mountain resort, but very welcoming, and from which you can enjoy a wonderful view of the lake below. And not only.
Defined – certainly with a little boldness – little Rome, Bossico has a square called San Pietro, a church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, a via Roma, and above all historic villas built between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and called with names related to Rome capital city: Celio, Quirinale, Vatican, Pincio, Aventino, Campidoglio; plus others dedicated to the history of Giuseppe Garibaldi: Caprera, Suello, Villa Glori … The reason is easy to say: precisely by virtue of its enchanting panoramic position on Lake Iseo, in the second half of the 19th century Bossico became a holiday resort particularly appreciated from above local bourgeoisie, who built villas here by naming them with Roman and Risorgimento names, in honor of their patriotic ideals (with all due respect to the League today).
In Bossico you stay comfortably both at theMiralago hotels both at theHotel Al Milano, both centrally located, with free parking and a good restaurant.
The area is an excellent starting point for excursions: the Bossico plateau boasts 50 kilometers of pleasant paths and paths (excellent for practicing Nordic walking, but also to splash in e-bikes and mountain bikes), two large picnic areas, one fallow deer reserve, and offers truly wonderful views of the two lakes below (Iseo and d'Endine, in fact), Monte Isola (the lake island in the middle of the lake), the adjacent valleys and the Presolana mountain range. The most beautiful walk is the one that goes all the way Mount Colombina (1459 meters within everyone's reach), which you will recognize from the cross on the top. There you will also find a notebook of the summit on which to leave your signature. The gaze from above will embrace the Orobie, the Camonica Valley, the Po Valley. On particularly clear days it is said that you can even spot the glitter of the Madonnina in Milan, but honestly we have not seen that (all the rest yes).
In general, the first Sunday of August takes place in Bossico Potato bread festival: The courtyards of the houses in the historic center open to the public and for the occasion the (old) wood-fired ovens (where traditional potato bread is cooked according to an ancient recipe, handed down for generations, with flour, water , yeast, salt and boiled potatoes, strictly zero kilometer, because those of Bossico are reputed to be particularly tasty and are also grown today in the gardens and fields of the plateau. Visitors are therefore allowed to observe how this bread is kneaded, baked and baked, and in the end also to taste it. It is an appointment that we once recommend that you participate, even if unfortunately this year there will not be due to the ongoing health emergency.
To do, however, also this year, enjoy one of the (many) traditional cheeses produced in the area farms (there are four): here the milk is not processed as in a dairy, there are no protocols, precision instruments. Everything is done by hand, and by eye, following only patience, experience and instinct. And as it tells us Patrizia Gandini of the Pro Loco Office: «Every gesture repeats itself always the same and always different, because raw milk is a living food and the days are never the same. This is why the flavors of the cheeses of the Bossico plateau are unique, because they are made with craftsmanship, tradition, passion and good nature, and in every cheese – from the most seasoned to ricotta or cheese – you can also savor the emotions and scents of the mountain and the lake .
In making cheeses on the farm, every gesture is always repeated the same and different, because raw milk is a living food and the days are never the same. This is why the flavors of the cheeses of the Bossico plateau are unique
A tour of Monte Isola
After having admired it so much from above, going back to the lake, you cannot stop at Monte Isola, the largest lake island in Europe, and which is located right in the center of Lake Iseo. It was made famous in 2016 by the installation The Floating Piers by the artist Christo, who recently passed away, and which consisted of a "floating walkway on the lake" that connected the islands of Monte Isola and the nearby (and very small) San Paolo to the mainland (municipality of Sulzano). To get to Monte Isola today the departure is always from Sulzano only that the lake is commonly crossed by ferry. The complete tour of the island is 9 kilometers, to be traveled safely on foot or by bicycle, and being careful only to avoid reckless people local vespists (on the other hand, there are no machines here). The walk is easy, apart from a few steeper sections to the south and which tests the breath of cyclists above all. Here and there there are very beautiful views, especially in front of the islet (with castle) of Loreto. All 'Hostaria Milago of Peschiera Maraglio (where the ferry docks) you eat excellent lake fish with super views.
The pyramids of Zone
But there is still something little known and very suggestive that we want to point out in the area. In the area of the municipality of Zone, 14 kilometers from Sulzano (we are on the Brescia side of Lake Iseo), there is a Park with real pyramidsi.e. absolutely natural (and sometimes very high) stone sculptures formed due to the erosion of the water in contact with the particular terrain of morainic origin of the mountain. We assure you that among these rocks the show is guaranteed, even if in the ascent there will be a little sweat.