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Lake Iseo - Did you know?

foto of ElsDid you know that Lake Iseo also known as Sebino was formed by the erosion of an alpine glacier and was named after the Goddess Isis or Odysseus – therefore known as (‘ Lago di Odisseo’)

In 2005 an extensive underground labyrinth was discovered, stretching from Lake Endine to Lake Iseo. A small group of cavers came across a rock crevice (the size of a 2 euro coin) in the Fonteno valley from which particularly cold air was being emitted. Immediately they realized that something was hidden under there so they decided to dig a hole. Soon they found themselves facing what is now called the Abyss Bueno Fonteno – a gaping chasm of 18 kilometers by 500 meters. Further exploration led to the discovery of the largest cave in the Bergamo area and among the top twenty in Italy. Fairly recently another cave was discovered and named Nueva Vida. It turns out this cave is connected to Bueno Fonteno and together they make for forty kilometers of galleries, falling to depths up to 600 meters and even a third lake. Amazing: so between Lake Iseo and Lake Endine, in the Val Cavallina a third underground concealed.

Boario Terme, to the north of Lake Iseo, was established as a spa towards the end of the eighteenth century with the construction of the Casino Boario. Here they administered “healthy water magnesium and iron vitrinolate” The first mention of “medicinal springs” can be attributed to Father Gregorio Brunelli (Vallecamonica – 1698), but the therapeutic properties of thermal springs had been known since the fifteenth century. In the second half of the 19th century Boario Terme became a health resort and fashionable meeting place for the rich middle class: the “Ancient Water Source” it even appeared in the shops of Milan’s and many chemists. Today, thanks to the presence of four different mineral water sources, Boario is one of the most unique thermal centres of Italy and offers a wide range of treatments that cure various ailments.

Mount Trentapassi not only features in several paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, it is also home to a yearly event in Spring called the Skyrace. The Skyrace is all about skyrunning – running in the mountains over extremely technical trails – with lengths that exceed over 18 kilometers. Departing from Marone athletes face two kilometers of flat land. In the subsequent 3.5 kilometers they will go up to 1050 meters. Reaching the top of the Corna Trentapassi (1250 meters above sea level) the trail then falls in the direction of Zone alternating stretches of descent from extreme to just difficult which will test the legs of any athlete.

Near the town of  Solto Collina, located at an altitude between 350 and 700 meters above sea level, this natural reserve of about 70 ha boasts a wide variety of plant species (among which edelweiss, gentians and rhododendron) that are normally found at 1000 meters and more often at 1500 meters of height. This is due to a micro-thermal phenomenon that takes place with the emission of freezing air from some “cold holes” or gorges in the ground. The Natural Reserve is also the perfect place for birdwatching, thanks to the 28.000 species of birds living in this environment. The site can be visited only on Saturdays and Sundays in May, June and July. The entrance is free.

The Antica Strada Valeriana (Cai path 291) was the only route to Valle Camonica for many thousands of years. Fully revamped and reinstated for tourism purposes, the route is today a harmonious encounter between landscape, art and history. The route runs along the hinterland of the eastern shore of the lake, from Pilzone d’Iseo to Pisogne (there is a project in progress to extend it as far as Monticelli Brusati and Ome), passing through the territories of Sulzano, Sale Marasino, Marone and Zone. The trip is extraordinarily stunning because there are always views of Lake Iseo and the surrounding mountains. The route is indicated at junctions and intersections by information boards, arrows and a yellow and brown coloured V.  The Antica Strada Valeriana is also cited as the ‘Route of Spiritual Devotion’. The presence of churches, shrines, monasteries and chapels is in fact quite extraordinary; they were used in the past to provide assistance and refreshment to travelers and pilgrims.

Lake Iseo is not known for its beaches. However, a particularly nice one can be found near the town of Iseo. It is a public beach of  around 2000 m2, a green oasis within walking distance from the historic town centre, and features a good restaurant.

The Valcamonica has a wealth of rock art left by its inhabitants during thousands of years of history that has stayed almost intact. The rocks, from a geological point of view, are Permian sandstones, formed in the last period of the Palaeozoic age, the Permian (280-225 million years ago). Huge bulks of debris were carried by powerful rivers in that age and slowly piled up in continental basins where the combined action of time, mechanical and chemical reactions turned them into stones. The subsequent geological events (elevations and erosions) shaped them. On these rocks the first dwellers of the Valcamonica begun to carve the signs of their thought and spirituality.There are a lot of rocks to see in the park, all with several themes and engraved in different periods.

Located in a clay reservoir, the Pyramids are hoodoos (also known as tent rocks, earth or erosion pyramids, or fairy chimneys), which result from prolonged erosion.  Layers of clay are washed away all around boulders, with the latter protecting the clay deposit directly underneath them. Year after year of such erosion has left a surreal landscape marked by boulders perched on top of spindly towers of clay, some reaching as high as 30 meters (98 feet). The scenery can be taken in from the road, but it is worthwhile venturing down the steep trail that snakes through the Pyramids.  Although part of the trail can be challenging, it is relatively short, and it could be completed in 30 minutes.  However, allow at least one hour for appreciating the spectacle from down below.  Bear in mind that the site is in continuous change due to erosion, and caution must be taken when walking under the Pyramids.

Il Treno dei Sapori is a multisensorial journey through the railway Brescia-Edolo. It is about experiencing the taste of delicious food and wines while admiring the beauties of Valcamonica’s, Franciacorta’s and Iseo lake’s landscapes and the natural, artistic, historic and cultural richness of the area.  Il Treno dei Sapori is made of a vintage locomotive from the early ‘900s and two fully equipped modern wagons provided with air conditioning, multimedia devices, external cameras and audio-visual systems to show its passengers real time outlooks. Dedicated to slow travel Il Treno dei Sapori offers more than ten different itineraries led by expert guides and certified sommeliers. It runs on Sundays and festive days and can be booked through

Elisa Di Solto – 27th November 2016


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