Iseo lake tour
|Start/Arrive||Riva di Solto|
|Elevation gain||200 m circa|
|Length||66 km circa|
WHEN TO GO
From Riva di Solto to Costa Volpino
Starting from the town center of Riva di Solto, nestled on the shimmering waters of the lake, you ride clockwise towards Lovere. In summer the road passing through the town is often closed to traffic and therefore is quite quiet. Following the beautiful lakefront you soon get to the entrance of a stretch dotted with small beaches that runs parallel to the tunnel.
The old road, flanking the orrido del Bogn (the Bogn Gorge), is partially prohibited for the risk of falling rocks but it is so beautiful that it would be a real shame not to cycle it, in addition is the only option to avoid the tunnel.
The lakefront road dating back to the 1910 stops in less than one kilometer along the SS469 road, one of the most evocative roads in Lombardy.The SS649 road indeed entirely unwinds just before the water among sharp bends, short tunnels carved into the bare rock and a waterfall close to Castro. It is open to traffic even if, on occasion of some event is closed... let’s hope that in the near future someone will decide, at least on summer Sundays, to allow the journey only to bicycles and pedestrians.
The road soon reaches Castro and then continues towards Lovere, one of the most beautiful ancient villages in Italy. The Lovere waterfront is the gateway to the city center boasting a maze of colorful alleys, old churches like that of San Giorgio and elegant squares like the central Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.
Our itinerary by bicycle around Lake Iseo goes on without crossing the center of Lovere even if I suggest a visit as long as the weather is fine. You go pedaling along Via Nazionale until a parking lot before a Tamoil petrol station. You turn right following the indications for the bicycle path and pedaling along secondary roads till Costa Volpino.
The signs lead us till the town cycle path, partially unpaved, almost touching the water of the lake and soon reconnecting, even if for a short distance, with a trait of the Valcamonica cycle route which passes through the Parco avifaunistico della Foce dell'Oglio nord. You go pedalling in parallel to the river Oglio and then you quit the cycle route and cross the river on the sidewalk of the Barcotto Bridge.
After crossing the river Oglio you have to go on for about 2 km along the main connection road between Costa Volpino and Pisogne which is quite busy but also wide. Pay close attention.
From Pisogne on the east bank
Pedaling towards Pisogne you soon reach the station and the small harbor just before the main square where it is possible to stop for a rest. At weekends Pisogne is animated and full of cyclists visiting the lake, some with the mountain bike, some with a child seat, some with the racing bike.
From the small square of Pisogne, lying in Via Roma, we follow the bicycle and pedestrian waterfront, the continuation of the Valcamonica cycle route, that after 500 meters becomes a promiscuous road. We go past the stream Valle Trobiolo and go on just before the beautiful Lake Iseo: the landscape is already engaging with Lovere lying on the opposite bank, the Orobie mountains and the Mount Adamello still covered with snow in the distance and the placid surface of the basin. When in Toline the cycle route of the Valcamonica valley becomes a bicycle and pedestrian path passing along the old road at the foot of the Trenta Passi.
The Toline - Vello cycle route is a really fascinating path offering spectacular views on Lake Iseo in addition to the excitement of running along the water among the rock galleries of the Trenta Passi Rock. Every Sunday many are those who choose to go along this portion of the lakefront, perhaps parking the car in Vello, the village where the cycle route ends.
From Vello the road becomes promiscuous alternating with stretches of cycling routes. The journey is not dangerous because the traffic is really derisory: you reach Marone, a town along the “road of the oil”, where you can deviate to pedal along the lakefront until crossing the stream Opolo, stretch where you go back to the main road.
You go on parallel to the railroad reaching again Lake Iseo and you start again to flank it. After Marone there is Sale Marasino, once divided in two different municipalities: Sale sul lago and hilly Marasin, already inhabited in Roman times. The Villa Martinengo Portazzuolo immediately draws the attention thanks to its courtyard structure on the lake, after all one of the most famous historic houses (dating to the XVI century) of the whole Sebino. Sale Marasino borders Sulzano which has less than 2,000 inhabitants and is the main mooring to reach the beautiful island of Montisola.
Montisola, that in June, for 15 days, will be connected to the Brescia bank through a floating walkway designed by architect Christo, is a pleasant place also to visit by mountain bike, therefore if you have the chance do not miss it.
After Sulzano you enter the town of Iseo with the suburb of Pilzone divided by the lake by an inhabited hill, the hill of Montecolo. You go past the bump, flank it and cross the railway to take the cycle route leading up to Iseo, a town south of the lake.
Iseo and the peat bog
The town of Iseo is one of the most touristy of the whole lake. It is just 20 km from Brescia and is also crossed by the itinerary connecting Bergamo and Desenzano del Garda.
Going by bicycle in Iseo is enjoyable: take advantage of some of your time to visit the Pieve di Sant'Andrea, of the V century, the Oldofredi Castle and the Riserva naturale Torbiere del Sebino (The Natural Reserve of the Sebino Peat Bog) where you can practice birdwatching. Iseo belongs to the Franciacorta area, therefore, if you love good wine, we suggest that you taste at least one cup while in town.
From the town center you go on straight along Via per Rovato till a roundabout where the itinerary n° 1 of Franciacorta is specified. Without considering the sign, go on the right along the cycle route, flank the camping site and go on along the countryside road, this time following the indication of itinerary 1 (yellow route) of Franciacorta. The route of the tour of Lake Iseo gently rises among flowering fields and the Sebino Peat Bog.
You go pedaling on the cycle route towards Clusane meeting the itinerary n° 3 of Franciacorta (green route) and going on towards Paratico, the gateway of Franciacorta and the last town on the lake belonging to the province of Brescia. The bridge on the river Oglio ratifies the entrance in the province of Bergamo when arriving in the town of Sarnico.
From Sarnico on the Bergamo bank
Some pile-dwelling findings on the banks of Lake Iseo allowed to trace the origin of Sarnico and many things have changed since then. The lakefront, animated and enjoyable, can also be pedalable and allows to reach a picturesque walkway suspended on the water. The symbol of Sarnico is a medieval tower which, topped by a bell tower, stands out in the historical center of the town.
From the walkway you have to follow a secondary lane slowly leading to the SS469 road where short stretches in mixed traffic and longer stretches on the cycle route alternate. In this area there are some of the most beautiful beaches of Lake Iseo and in the summer the crowd is remarkable. The coast is pretty wild and, with the exception of a few buildings dating back at least to a couple of decades ago, coves alternate with flowered meadows. After a handful of kilometers you reach Predore, an evocative old village whose entire skyline you can see a few kilometers forward. From Predore you pedal along a promiscuous road flanking the western bank of the Sebino. On the left there is the small church of San Giorgio while on the right small bays of clear water pass by.
Just before Tavernola Bergamasca, in conjunction with a dark tunnel, you find yourself in front of the cycle route access gate which is closed. Thanks to the tips of an elderly resident, we manage to access the route as soon as we entered the gallery. The cycle route allows to avoid a dangerous stretch of road, but it is closed because it is often affected by small landslides and no municipality takes on the responsibility of its maintenance. The access is therefore at the risk of every cyclist. What I can tell you is that this stretch is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful of the lake because it allows to see Montisola from a prime location besides avoiding the traffic of the tunnel.
To leave the cycle route it is necessary to return for a hundred meters in the tunnel and follow it till the exit (I recommend a back light to show your position to vehicles!).
Tavernola is another of those lakeside villages you do not expect with a small harbor and the square-plant stone bell tower. From the town it’s just 7 km to Riva di Solto, some of which slightly uphill. From Tavernola the road first goes into a tunnel of about 400 meters (remember to turn on the back light of your bicycle!!!) and slowly starts to go up towards the suburb of Zu, but anyone can follow it without much effort.
Riva di Solto welcomes cyclists with its small square where to enjoy a coffee while admiring the lake or where to eat a homemade ice cream. On its territory there are 5 towers and a castle besides a climb towards Solto Collina for real enthusiasts... but that's another story! You find further information on Lake Iseo on the official web site of Turismo del Sebino