On Lake Iseo, north of Montisola, there is a fairy-tale, magical, almost dreamlike place that stands out not only in Lombardy, but also throughout Italy: it is the island of Loreto, with its exceptional history and numerous curiosities that make it even more special.
The history of Loreto Island
The historical facts related to the island of Loreto date back to the fifteenth century, when a convent of the nuns of Santa Chiara was built, and continues in the seventeenth century, when its property passed into the hands of several wealthy families.
The island is so beautiful and fascinating to tempt many, but it is with the arrival of the knight Vincenzo Richieri that it acquires its maximum splendor: by his will, in fact, is erected a neo-Gothic castle enriched by a precious and lush garden. Even today the castle is majestic and imposing, with its crenellated towers and fortified walls and, over the centuries, has become a real symbol of the island.
In addition, from the castle walls you can enjoy the best panoramic views of the lake.
All the curiosities related to the Island of Loreto
The island of Loreto is really small but, at the same time, it is so fascinating to have been able to enchant and inspire world-famous artists and poets, first of all the writer Costanzo Ferrari who chose it as a location for the writing of some passages of his novel “Tiburga Oldofredi – Historical scenes of the thirteenth century”.
But not only: even the Hollywood actor George Clooney, already super in love with Lake Como, after being entranced by the island tried to buy it to give it to his flame of the time, our Elizabeth Canalis. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the deal did not go well and the island remained in the hands of the old (and current) owners.
That said, the answer is yes: despite being a must-see attraction, the Island of Loreto is a private paradise.
How to visit the Island of Loreto
Being, therefore, a private property, the island of Loreto cannot be included in the traditional tourist itineraries on Lake Iseo; as a result, you can not visit it as you would with a museum, a castle or a cathedral.
What remains for tourists is the view of the island from afar, perhaps during a boat tour in Lake Iseo or walking in the nearby resorts, first of all Montisola.
What to see around Lake Iseo
The disappointment of not being able to visit the island of Loreto can be easily counterbalanced by the many alternatives offered by Lake Iseo: between nature, sport, art, culture, events, shopping and gastronomic tradition you can quickly redo, going to the discovery of places and definitely exciting experiences.
Boat tour of Lake Iseo
In summer you can enjoy the beauty of Lake Iseo by making a boat excursion, which lasts half a day and allows visitors to admire the area from different perspectives. In the rest of the year, however, you can travel along the coast by car or bike to visit the historic villages and take photographs of the most beautiful views.
Monte Isola (or Montisola)
Monte Isola is the largest inhabited island among the European lakes; it is characterized by colorful boats, steep staircases, stone villages and spectacular small and narrow streets. A must is a walk through the olive trees and woods that lead to the Sanctuary of Madonna della Ceriola, where you must take a panoramic picture.
Since 2003, Lovere has become part of The most beautiful villages in Italy and this is thanks to its decidedly welcoming old town, its artistic heritage, elegant buildings, squares and numerous cafes that invite passers-by to stop for a drink with friends. The main attractions are: the fifteenth-century Basilica of Santa Maria in Valvendra, the panoramic view offered by the top of the Civic Tower and the art collection kept inside the Galleria dell’Accademia Tadini.
Iseo, Sarnico and Pisogne
There are at least three places to visit on the lake and these are Iseo, Sarnico and Pisogne.
Iseo is considered the tourist capital of the lake and, even today, retains its typical medieval village structure with alleys, houses and towers. Inside there are the Pieve di Sant’Andrea, the Church of Santa Maria del Mercato and Piazza Garibaldi, which corresponds to the meeting point of the town and where, every Friday morning, there is the largest open-air market around the lake. Iseo stands out not only for its architectural beauty, but also for its elegant shops, inviting restaurants and various sports proposals.
Sarnico is located on the southern shore of the lake and consists of a lively town, which attracts mainly for the walks that it offers on the lakeside and through the characteristic alleys of the old town. It is famous above all for being the birthplace of the Riva shipyards, still famous all over the world, and for the Art Nouveau villas built by the architect Sommaruga.
Pisogne, however, is the last municipality north of the eastern shore of the lake, where the latter meets the mountain. Its historic center is distinguished by the narrow streets and the old pastel-colored buildings. The atmosphere created at sunset invites everyone to stop by one of the many bars and restaurants. At the same time, here the lakeside promenade is really beautiful and is the ideal place to walk in total safety even in the company of children. We also recommend a visit to the Bishop’s Tower, the Parish Church of Santa Maria in Silvis and the Church of Santa Maria della Neve.
Antica Strada Valeriana
Trekking lovers should definitely take the Antica Strada Valeriana, that is the historic medieval path of pilgrims and merchants became today the most coveted route of Lake Iseo! The route, about 24 kilometers long, winds along the eastern shore of the lake between Pilzone d’Iseo and Pisogne and is characterized by the presence of olive groves, meadows, woods, churches and small villages. Not to be missed!
Pyramids of erosion of Zone
There are those who call them “fairy chimneys” because of the magic they can transmit and instill in anyone who admires them: it is the Pyramids of erosion of Zone, a geological phenomenon that has led to the formation of earth spires covered with large boulders that, In turn, they have created a nature reserve to discover and admire. Visitors are allowed to walk along a predetermined internal path to take pictures and enjoy the surrounding landscape.
Fleece – Toline
In the north of the lake, precisely on the eastern shore that extends between Marone and Pisogne, there is the Vello-Toline stretch that corresponds to an old coastal road now transformed into a beautiful cycle-pedestrian lane. Long 5 kilometers, can be traveled by adults and children, sports and not, both on foot and by bike to admire the beauty of the lake.
Le Big Bench
The scenery offered by Lake Iseo and Franciacorta inspired the creativity of Chris Bangle, who has well thought of building giant benches (the so-called Big Bench) on which to make a stop and take a large number of selfies! Seven have been made, each of different colors, and can be reached through special paths accessible to anyone, even children. Once you arrive, you can organize picnic on the lawn and admire the wonders of nature!
The Torbiere del Sebino
Always in Franciacorta, between the lake and the vineyards, there is an almost hidden natural oasis, immersed in total silence: it is the Sebino Peat Bog Nature Reserve, a small corner of paradise where many species of birds take refuge to nest. Tourists can observe them walking along paths and wooden walkways build between reeds and water mirrors.
At the end of the walk, to make a stop, you can stop at the Monastery of San Pietro in Lamosa in Provaglio d’Iseo: here you can know the history, legends and all the curiosities of the place, while fans can take a tour of the local wineries to participate in inviting wine tastings.