The fourth lake in Lombardy (Lake District), with a surface area of 61 square kilometers, despite the small dimension, is appreciated for its outstanding beauty!
Oglio River flows into the lake from Camonica Valley, in the North between Lovere and Pisogne, and flows out in the south-west position near Sarnico.
At the center of this stunning lake ranks Montisola, the largest Italian lake island, and two islets of Saint Paul and Loreto serve as satellites, in the North and in the South.
The presence of olive trees, vineyards and other fruit trees witness the mild climate, which fosters lush vegetation.
The landscape of the two shores looks different: Bergamo west side has mountains that fall directly into the water and Brescia east side has soft slopes, while it is full of small bays and inlets.
Among the resorts distributed along the coast, we should mention: Iseo, Pisogne, and the road, connecting them, also allows you to cross Sulzano, where there is a ferry service that connects the mainland to the island, then Sale Marasino, with the imposing Church of Saint Zenone and Marone, called "oil town", thanks to the culture of olive trees.
Along the lake you are supposed to enjoy splendid views.
MONTISOLA looks impressive, like a mountain in the middle of the lake.
The villages are all connected, one to the other, but cars aren’t allowed except for the priest, the doctor and the social assistant. There are also minibuses (municipal service), the ambulance and inhabitants are used to ride bicycles or scooters.
The local economy is mainly based on agriculture (olive trees), and on traditional fishing activities, that are the manufacture of nets and boats.
In the past, net was necessary to fish and it was made by hand.
Thanks to the industrial revolution, nylon was introduced and the first net factories were born!
A further evolution during the years ‘60s: the production of sport nets began to spread out, and the inhabitants became world producers of soccer nets, tennis nets, volleyball nets, basket nets, and so on.
Similarly, there has been an evolution in the boatyards: once only boats for fishermen were done, now more elegant boats are manufactured.
With tourism a large number of restaurants spread out, to offer the opportunity to eat fresh water fish, such as char, whitefish, perch, bleaks, tench, trout.
The urban landscape is very picturesque, in particular some hamlets like Peschiera Maraglio, an old fishing village, still have side-by-side houses.
The small island of SAINT PAUL: seat of a Cluniac Monastery in medieval time
became property of Franciscans Friars; during the nineteenth century many owners alternate until early twentieth century when bought by Beretta family.
The small island of LORETO, also a private property, has a beautiful residence dating back early twentieth century and a secular park all around. Perhaps there was a convent or maybe a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Loreto – that is a pilgrim resort in central region of Italy - there are also those who claim that the name comes from a wood of laurels (“Lauro”, in Italian).
ISEO is the most important resort of Sebino (according to the Roman name). The lake obtained the name from it, thanks to the presence of the grain market, which took place here on Friday, starting from the end of the eleventh century. Many barges came from the Po Valley and Camonica Valley, and Iseo became a very important commercial hub, since water was used as a “communication road” until the advent of the railway.
Because of the tourism, a real metamorphosis and a great enhancement of the village took place, as beautiful as you could visit: Garibaldi Square, with the first monument erected in Italy in 1883, dedicated to the hero of the two worlds. The Church of Saint Mary of the Market, with fifteenth-century frescoes.
Saint Andrew’s Church, now a Parish church, with a splendid Lombard-Romanesque façade with a central bell tower. Inside, works by Rodolfo Vantini, in the neoclassical period, completely covered the medieval decorations, but there are masterpieces by Francesco Hayez, Angelo Inganni, Teosa, Loverini.
The Oldofredi Castle, defensive structure of the village, dates back to the twelfth century.
The historical medieval center preserved its original urban plan, the major part expertly renovated.
PISOGNE, in the northern side of the lake, is located at the beginning of Camonica Valley.
It has a charming medieval center, where stands the Bishop Tower, witness of the control of the village by the bishop from Brescia, until the arrival of Venice in 1426.
The old Market Square was the theater of a terrible event: eight women, accused of witchcraft, were burned alive in 1518.
The accusation of heresy was due to the climate of religious uncertainty, which had spread after the Protestant Reformation.
Today, Pisogne is especially famous for the Church of Our Lady of the Snow, whose construction began in the second half of the fifteenth century and in the years 1533-34 the painter Girolamo Romanino was commissioned to fresco the interior of the church, with the cycle of the Passion of the Christ.