Montisola (or Monte Isola) is the biggest lake island in Europe, and it is located in the middle of Lake Iseo.
Some people might know it because of the Floating Piers, the work of art by Christo and Jean-Claude, that connected the island to the mainland in summer 2016.
If you are spending some time in the Lake Iseo area, we absolutely recommend visiting Montisola and possibly dedicate an entire day to it.
Montisola is a place of peace and ancient traditions. The municipality of Montisola is made of little villages; some located on the coast and some in the mountains. In Montisola, the only authorised vehicles are public service (ambulances, police, public buses, etc.), and some motorbikes, which are restricted to residents’ usage. That’s right, no cars!
How to get there
You can reach Montisola by the local ferry boat (battello) from all the main villages. If you’d like to spend more time on the boat and have a tour of the Northern side of the lake, we suggest starting your journey from Lovere.
If you have a dog, you will need a ticket for them and a muzzle.
Lovere to Montisola
The ferry boat leaves the pier of Lovere at 8.45 AM and 3.35 PM (in summer, on Saturday and Sunday, there is an exceptional ride at 9.45 AM). We suggest to buy the ticket in advance, so you can board the ferry first. If you don’t, you can still by a ticket on the day.
We took this trip in summer 2020, during the covid safety restrictions; at this time, tickets are not sold at the ticket office, but only on the ferry with a debit card. They said they would not accept cash for hygienic reasons, but people that only had cash were able to buy a ticket anyway. You can check the timetable and buy the ticket at Navigazione Lake Iseo
The trip from Lovere to Montisola lasts around 1 hour and 45 minutes. It’s really lovely. You can sit outside in the sun, with a fresh breeze and enjoy views of the Northside of the lake: the coast, the mountains, and the villages of Pisogne, Castro, Riva di Solto, Marone, Sale Marasino and Sulzano.
Arriving in Montisola
The first stop in Montisola is the village of Siviano. We got off at the third stop, Peschiera Maraglio, the main village of the island.
If you plan to rent a bike, we suggest to get off here, or at the second stop, Carzano. You can find 2 bike rentals in Peschiera (from the pier, turn right) and 1 in Carzano (just in front of the pier). There are no bike rentals in Siviano.
In Peschiera Maraglio you can also find the tourist office, that can provide a map of the island and lots of information.
What to do in Montisola
Montisola is 9.4 km long. The best way to discover Montisola is to walk or cycle along the island. The road is easy, completely paved, with some medium difficulty parts (some little climbs).
You can explore its villages, walk to the sanctuary at the top of the mountain, enjoy the local cuisine – there are many restaurants around the island where you can taste the typical lake fish and salame of Montisola -, buy some local products like its famous oil, sunbathe in one of the main grass areas or in one of the few pebble beaches and swim in the lake (the grass areas always allow easy access to the lake).
From Peschiera Maraglio to Carzano
Once arrived in Peschiera Maraglio, we took the way to the right, which leads to the village of Carzano. The road is flat and runs along the lake.
In around 40 minutes’ walk we reached the village and we decided to stop and public park (Parco pubblico). It is a lovely spot for a break, to sunbathe, have a swim or just rest under an olive tree. There is a bar, a space to park your bike, and also an area for dogs.
From Carzano to Siviano
From the park of Carzano, the road goes uphill towards the village of Siviano. On your right, you can admire the little island of Loreto.
The walk takes around 25 minutes. The village of Siviano is located on the top of the hill. If you want to stop by the lake and swim, you can descend towards the little pebble beach called “Punta”, not too far from the pier.
From Siviano to Sensole
The road continues pretty much flat until you reach a fork, where you can take the road on the right, that goes downhill towards the pier of Sensole.
On the way, we took a diversion and went down by the lake in a grass area called “Baia del Silenzio” (you can see signs for it). It is a place to rest, sunbathe and also there are ladders to swim in the lake.
From Sensole to Peschiera Maraglio
This is the last stretch. The road is flat and runs by the lake again. On your right, you will see the island of San Paolo, which now belongs to the Beretta family. On the way, there is a little pebble beach and some spots with ladders to go for a swim. There is also a park for kids and some lovely grass areas with olive trees where you can rest and sunbathe.
Back in Peschiera we took the ferry boat at 4.40 PM that brought us back to Lovere.