BERGAMO AND ITS LAKES
2-3 day round trip
130km round trip (Bergamo, Lake Iseo and Lake Endine)
Virtually two cities, Bergamo’s walled hilltop “citta’ alta” (upper town) is surrounded by the “citta’ bassa” (lower town), a sprawling modern addition to this magnificent former outpost to the Venetian empire.
Although Milan’s skyline to the southwest is visible on a clear day, historically Bergamo was more closely associated with Venice, which was in control of the city for 350 years until Napoleon arrived. Although long dominated by outsiders, Bergamo has retained a strong sense of local identity, perhaps demonstrated most colourfully by the local dialect, which is almost incomprehensible to visitors.
Bergamo, with its wealth of medieval, Renaissance and baroque architecture, is one of Italy’s lesser-known highlights, although more and more tourist are now ‘discovering’ this lovely spot thanks to the increase in budget airline traffic into Orio al Serio airport, just 4km southeast of the city.
Several small ski resorts speckle the Bergamo Alps not far from the town.
You can park in the upper town overnight and then go the lower town for water and other services. You can find an equipped area at the 'Via crocce rossa' and 'Via Broseta' crossroads.
Iseo Lake is the least known of the lakes. Shut in by mountains, it is carred by industry and a string of tunnels at is northeastern point and around Castro and Lovere, although driving through the blasted rock face at the water‘s edge can be enjoyable.Heading south, you'll come across 'Franciacorta' a patch of rolling countryside that produces excellent wine where, if you're lucky, you can sometimes find the 'cantine' open for some wine tasting, while the mountainous hinterland offers interesting walking possibilities. Riva di Solto and Sarnico with its lovely Liberty villas towards the southern end of the lake, are a couple of fairly unspoilt villages on the western shore with a sprinkling of restaurants (a local speciality is 'tinka' small sardine like fish from the lake).
The River Oglio winds up to the lake through the Valle Camonica between two national parks.
Walking is the main attraction both here and around Marone on the eastern shore, from where a road winds into the mountains to Zone. Small and quiet Sulzano 12 km south of Marone, is linked by ferry to the lake island of Monte Isola. Iseo, a pleasant, if rather quiet, spot fronting the southern end of the lake, Iseo boasts the first monument commemorating Garibaldi. South of the small town lies a 2 sq km protected weatland, formed from 18th –century peat beds. In the spring the pools are smothered in water lilies.
From Iseo you can catch a boat to Monte Isola, Europe’s largest lake island at 5 sq km. Few vehicles are allowed on the streets – cycling is the preferred means of getting around, making the fishing village a peaceful place to stay. Sleeping: in Sulzano a beautiful, guarded area allows an enjoyable and relaxing vacation or in one of the numerous camp sites in the area.
Just a few kilometres away you can find Lake Endine, small but characteristic.
If you feel like a gentle stroll by the water's edge and escape the hustle and bustle of the busier lakes then this is the place to be! Ranzanico has got a well equipped camp site near the lake called 'La Tartufaia'.
Sulzano (on Lake Iseo) offers parking in the 'Gerolo'carpark next to the embarkation for Monte Isola, a payment will probably be neccesary.
Tel:0039 030 985262.
Iseo, numerous parking areas near the lake or near the hospital.