Approaching the mountain lined skies above Lake Iseo brought an exciting air of curiosity. Our tour of Italy had perviously taken a diversion into the city of Bergamo. Then, after a day of exploration, we were back on track, ready for some new discoveries around the sleepy Lake Iseo in the Italian Lakes.
I don’t think we’re alone in admitting to having never heard of Lake Iseo! This lesser known of the Italian lakes is actually situated between Lake Como and Lake Garda, but it’s not somewhere that you generally hear people visiting.
Located in the North of Italy, the Italian lakes are naturally both beautiful and classical in appearance. Above all, they’re surrounded by some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe. Last but not least, we couldn’t wait to see what this smaller Lake Iseo had in store for us!
Our first stop on the lake came at the historic lakeside town of Sarnico. It wasn’t long before we managed to park the campervan. Why is it always so much easier in Europe than the UK? Ok, I won’t get started on that one today, but I think you’ll know the feeling all too well!
So, this lovely old town has intricate streets and an immaculate promenade. Best of all, it was a perfect place to stretch the legs, despite the heat of the Summer sun. Soon, our restless legs were exploring the town itself, which unfortunately was just about closing for siesta time!
In this instance, when shops are shut, it’s back to doing something that doesn’t cost much money! For us, the lakeside path called, so we set off along the lake, admiring the fabulous scenery in the process.
As with so many places in Italy, a good cycle path meandered from the town along the lake. Therefore, giving excellent options for cyclists as well as those who prefer their own two feet!
After a picnic lunch under a shady tree, we were ready to step back in the campervan and continue the adventure around the lake.
Before long, a winding mountain road beckoned. This lead us away from the lakeside road and up to the dizzy heights of a place named Zone. Yes, this cute mountain village, located high above the lakeside town of Marone is home to some rather interesting and natural attractions.
First though, it was time to find somewhere to park up for the night. We soon noticed a familiar campervan Sosta parking sign, so followed the arrows to a lovely parking area on the outskirts of the village.
For a small fee of 10 Euro per night, the Sosta provided us with an ideal and peaceful place to rest our weary selves. We walked over to the local restaurant as per instructions on a notice board at the entrance and paid the fees. We wondered, how many others would actually pay, or would they sneak off early in the morning to avoid detection?
I remember the old way of doing things on French Aires. When the local Gendarmarie would call to collect the very small fee, often just a few Euro’s. However, that didn’t stop the fee-dodgers fleeing the scene at 7am, before the inevitable knock on the door came.
Anyway, back to happier thoughts! Now it was time to explore the incredible rock formations themselves. Actually situated in the hamlet of Cisiano, just a few minutes walk away from where we’d parked the campervan.
Our evening stroll along a route to see these amazing spire-like rocks, took about one and a half hours. Furthermore, these huge natural pillars, formed out of rocks eroded by time, are quite extraordinary. Each tall spire reaches into the sky, complete with an almost perfectly formed ball of rock on the top!
Known as “The fairies in the forest” the rock formations are something of a big attraction in the region. Although for us, the well formed path was actually very quiet, giving us a chance to take our time admiring the huge natural wonderland.
The following morning, we walked up to the incredibly picturesque village of Zone. This hillside mountain village consisted of the most laid back appeal. Probably due to its surroundings consisting of nothing more than meadows of grazing cattle and amazing views across the countryside.
By chance, we then came across a medieval cobbled walking trail, of course, we just had to follow it! The heat was once again searing. So, when we came across a natural fountain supplying a range of spring water, we were most grateful for the opportunity of filling our bottles. Yes, not only did they have still water, but also, sparkling! How about that for a treat?
Once we’d finished our waking trail through lovely Zone, we drove back down the mountain to re-join the lakeside road.
Continuing our route around Lake Iseo almost didn’t go quite to plan. All thanks to one stretch of very narrow road approaching a long tunnel. The signs warned of restrictions on vehicle width of 2 meters, whilst the height shouldn’t more than 3 meters.
Quickly pulling into a lay-by next to the signs, we double checked our measurements and waited to see what vehicles were coming through from the opposite direction. Soon enough, a van of similar size to ours passed us, giving the go ahead for our turn to continue into the darkness of the tunnel.
What a relief, we wouldn’t have wanted to miss this fabulous route! With gorgeous scenery along the lakeside, the rewards were well worth the effort.
Before long, the road passed through pretty villages, before arriving back at Sarnico. So, there we have it, we’d come full circle around Lake Iseo.
So this may not be the biggest or most well known of the Italian lakes, but it’s certainly well worth a visit. The good thing is that due to it’s size, it’s far easier to see everything in a relatively short amount of time.
However, don’t forget to check those vehicle dimensions if you do want to travel right round the lake! The roads are narrow, the tunnels low and narrow with it, but for us it made the route even more fascinating.
For now, it was time to explore further afield and continue our tour of Northern Italy. By the way, don’t you just love the way they ride their horses in this neck of the woods?!