#38 / Scrambling all the way up
I know, I'm starting to develop a thing with lakes. After Como, Varese and Orta, today we’re taking a trip to Lake Iseo!
I know it like the back of my hand. Thinking about it, it’s strange for me to have waited for the 38th edition of #awalkwithMarco to take you there. A childhood friend of mine lives right here, in Lovere to be precise. I used to come here all the time, I know thousands of little alcoves on both sides – the western shore (part of Bergamo) and the eastern shore (belonging to Brescia).
The lake – as is often the case with rivers – marks the border between these two provinces which are steeped in the rich culture of Lombardy. We are north of the Po Valley: the main towns are Lovere on the north east of the lake, and Iseo on the south, in the shadow of Monte Isola – which, measuring 600 meters in height, is the largest lake island in Europe. Something I can definitely remember, having once scrambled all the way up by bike to the Sanctuary of Madonna della Ceriola, at the top of the hill. I was only a boy, but who could ever forget such a feat as that?! The struggle was rewarded with a glorious view over the entire lake, framed by the crown of the Prealps on one side and the vastness of the Po Valley on the other. But maybe this time we’ll take the minibus, okay?!
Anyway, there’s no need to get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start from the beginning: Iseo. Strolling lazily among its narrow streets and admiring the hundreds of little shops is one of my favorite winter Sunday pastimes, when the lake is best appreciated from the dry, warm comfort of the sheltered patios of the cafés. In summer, on the other hand, we would be spoilt for choice with all the bathing clubs spread along the (beautiful!) coastal road: we could spend a day “at the seaside”, swimming and topping up our suntan as if we were at the Mediterranean Sea.
Many dislike swimming in freshwater, because it tends to be muddy as opposed to sandy. There’s no accounting for taste... But that is precisely what I like about lakes: it’s like a smaller and cozier version of the sea, with its languorous rhythm I have spoken about many times before. In my opinion, it’s a wonderfully relaxing environment.
But seeing that summer still isn’t here, enough with freshwater or saltwater disputes! Let’s move on to Lovere. The elegant, spacious square that gives onto the lake is often considered the “living room” of this small town, closed off by aristocratic facades that seem to reflect the mountains on the opposite side of the water, with the town winding its way up along silent streets. One of the peculiarities of the lake is precisely the steepness of the banks, with walls covered in vegetation that splash into the water, creating an evocative mirror effect, tinting the water a verdant green just like the forests surrounding it. WOW!
It would be impossible to leave this town without stopping for an aperitif with a taste of some Franciacorta, the Metodo Classico sparkling wine produced by the highly revered DOCG vineyard of the same name just behind the lake, in the Brescia province. Delicious, and very well-known, it is a sort of Lombardy champagne – dearest French friends, don’t get me wrong: we’re all proud of our local heritage to some extent, so let us off the hook for this one.
It's come to the point where we say our goodbyes: we get in the car and, inebriated by all this beauty (and maybe by the Franciacorta), we’re headed off home. Wishing you an amazing week, my friends, and sending you lots of love, Yours,