Montisola (or Monte Isola) is the biggest lake island in Europe. A day trip to this beautiful island is a perfect way to get to know the lake and its ancient tradition, enjoy some local food, and to spend some time in contact with nature.
Full day trip
We highly recommend to dedicate a full day to your visit of Montisola. You can reach the island on board of the local “Battello” (ferry boat). On a summer’s day, we suggest to take the ferry boat in the morning from Lovere or Pisogne, for a full trip that allows you to admire the towns and the mountains of the Northern part of the Lake. Consults the official website of Lake Iseo ferry boats for the timetable and information about the tours.
You can read about our full day trip to Montisola here: A day trip to Montisola
Half day trip
If you’d like a short but equally enjoyable trip, you can take the battello from Iseo and admire the Southern coasts. If you prefer, instead, to spend more time with your feet on the ground, then the transfer from Sulzano or Sale Marasino takes just a few minutes. Peschiera Maraglio (Montisola) is only 800 meters from Sulzano and the link service is every 15 minutes from 5 am and every 40 minutes from midnight to 5 am the next morning. Carzano is 1200 metres from Sale Marasino.
Ferry boats information
you can find all the details of the ferry boats, piers, timetable, prices, cruises and suggested itineraries on the local Battello’s website – Navigazione Lago Iseo.
The municipality of Montisola is formed of many different villages. Some of these villages, such as Peschiera, Sensole, and Carzano, are along the lake shore and are connection points with the mainland. Located in the hills you can find Siviano, Menzino, and more. Finally, there are many villages towards the mountain top, including Olzano, Masse, Cure, and Senzano.
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! Visitors to Montisola can make use of the public transport, or bicycles. During the tourist season of April to September, you can rent bikes and tandems from the rental outlets located in Peschiera and Carzano.
What to see in Montisola
Once you arrive on Montisola there are many different ways to spend a beautiful day. Getting off at Peschiera Maraglio – an old village of fishermen and artisans, whose main occupation is to produce nets for fishing and hunting – you have three options:
- Wander around Peschiera’s ancient streets and admire the fishermen’s houses and their “naèt” (fishing boats). Then take a walk on the beautiful lakefront. The total perimeter is around 9km
- Rent a bike (in spring and summer only) to explore the island following the coastal road. This lovely ride, surrounded by olives tree, takes around 1 hour for a round trip. During the trip you can admire the two lovely privately owned islands of Loreto – with its characteristic castle, which is actually a villa built on a fourteenth-century convent – and the Island of San Paolo, with a villa that was built on a convent of 1091. Rumours say that George Clooney tried to purchase the island of Loreto a few years ago, but the jealous owner didn’t want to sell it
- Walk up to the mountain and reach the beautiful Sanctuary of Madonna della Ceriola (XVII sec.), from which you can enjoy breathtaking views of the lake. To get there, just aim north until the road begins to climb up in the town of Senzano. From this small village, continue towards Cure and follow the signs to the Sanctuary for about 1 km. This is the most scenic spot of Lake Iseo, where you can see almost all the villages of the two shores and spot the Franciacorta hills. On the lower cape, covered with olive trees groves and vineyards, there is the Rocca Oldofredi- Martinengo, a castle built the Oldofredi family in the fourteenth century as a strategic point of warning and defense and then became the residence of the Martinengo family during the Renaissance.
Montisola is also a place rich in tradition and flavors, where the poor cuisine of the past has now become appreciated in many of the local restaurants. Take a break during your visit and enjoy some of the traditional dishes like polenta with salame di Montisola, and the lake fish, like sardines or the popular “tinca ripiena”. Everything is enriched with locally produced oil.