Lake Iseo: The Lesser Known Gem of the Northern Italian Lakes

You’ve probably heard people raving about both Lake Garda and Lake Como, but have you ever been to Lake Iseo? In just over an hour from Milan by car or train, close to Bergamo and nestled in the Franciacorta wine region, you can find the small but delightful Lake Iseo.

If you’re arriving by car, enjoy the views as you wind through vineyards and past wineries. Starting in Iseo, a sweet town on its namesake Lake, take the ferry across to Monte Isola, made famous in 2016 by the temporary floating piers installation by Bulgarian artist Christo, and hike up to the church perched on top of the hill. Best of all Iseo is in the Franciacorta wine region, known for its delicious sparkling wine, so a post-hike tipple is guaranteed to be waiting in one of the many small bars dotting the lakeside. From Iseo the ferry goes regularly to Monte Isola, you can find the timetables here in both Italian and English.

Upon arriving in Monte Isola, you can take the hiking trail from Peschiera Maraglio which is situated next to the tourist information centre. The path rises steeply up out of the town and then begins to level out, presenting you with spectacular views over the lake and the island, certainly worth the initial effort at the beginning. There are also options to take a bus up the hill for those that have had a few glasses of Franciacorta before the hike! If you’re visiting in early Autumn then the woods nearer the top are a great place to gather chestnuts to take home for a delicious autumnal feast later.

The hike takes around an hour, depending on your pace and the views from the top are well worth it. The best way to get back is the way you came, or the bus down if you want to take it easy. You can enjoy the other villages on the island or head back over to Iseo for your well-deserved glass of Franciacorta.

If you’re staying longer make sure to book in a wine tasting at one of the Wineries: Ferghettina, Bellavista, Ca’ del Bosco are amongst some of the best.

Don’t miss out on this little pocket of heaven in Lombardy, it’s one of their best-kept secrets along with the delicious Franciacorta wine.

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