Lake Iseo: A Beautiful Lake in Lombardy

Lake Iseo is the fourth largest in Lombardy. Even though it is not as famous as its larger siblings, Como, Maggiore and Garda, it is still a very beautiful lake.

Lake Iseo Stats

Lake NameLake Iseo
Surface area58.670
Maximum depth251.0
Average depth70.9
Lake typeNatural freshwater lake
Catchment area1812.70
Shore length71.88
Residence time992.7
Trophic stateOligotrophic to mesotrophic
Average discharge48.496
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Hydrology and Geography

Lake Iseo is a long narrow lake stretching from North to South, located in the pre-Alps between numerous mountains covered by lush green forests. It is fed by the Oglio River and is located in the northern part of the country, close to the cities of Bergamo and Brescia, in the Val Camonica area. The lake is almost equally divided between the Bergamo and Brescia provinces.

Monte Isola, the largest natural lake island in the country, is one of the main attractions of the area. At 600 meters above sea level it is the highest lake island in Europe, with typical Mediterranean vegetation, boasting with blooms of broom in the spring and heather in the autumn. The lake’s eastern shore is steep and generally rocky, whilst the western coast is home to gentle slopes covered in orchards and olive groves. Tourists can reach the island through regular ferry services.

Because it is a lesser-known destination, it wasn’t as protected as the other Lombardian lakes in the area, and as a result, numerous industrial zones were developed around the lake. There are four main industrial centers: Iseo, Sarnico, Lovere and Pisogne-Castro.

Brief History

Archaeological finds of Sarnico confirm that the first major signs of human life in the area date back to prehistroric times. Etruscans and Celts governed the lake area for a short while, and after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the lake was the site of barbarian invasions and various rulers.

In 774 Charlemagne occupied the Val Camonica area and a major part of Lake Iseo. In 1161 Frederico Barbarossa descended from Val Camonica and burned down the town of Iseo after conquering it. In 1428 the area was occupied by the Republic of Venice and during their rule the region witnessed peaceful times for more than 300 years, until 1797, when Venetian rule ended. In 1859 the region was reunited with the rest of Lombardy.

Tourism and Recreation

Tourism season at Lake Iseo is usually between the months of May and September, but the area has plenty to offer year-round. Several medieval towns can be found along the lake’s coastline, such as Iseo and Sarnico, which are filled with bars, shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels and campsites. Paratico, Iseo, the fishing village of Sulza and Sale Marasino, famous for its historic and religious buildings are all located on the lake’s eastern shore. The western coast is much steeper and rockier, filled with industrial zones and unattractive developments.

The area is mostly visited for its cultural heritage and historic monuments, such as monasteries, old churches, Roman cities and museums. Iseo has an old, unfinished church dating back to the 12th century serving as its prime attraction. Lovere is home to the Galleria Taldini, an exhibition with numerous paintings. The Franciacorta Wine Region is located near the lake, famous for some of the World’s best sparkling wines.

Lake Iseo Map