Tuesday, March 6, 2012

 ITALY- LAGO d'ISEO (Lake Iseo)

Northern Italy's lake district boasts major tourist attractions like lakes Como and Garda, but (while we agree they're beautiful) we opt for a more tranquil setting by Lake Iseo.
A charming choice.

We start on the north end in Pisogne, a medieval center for commerce. 
The Widow Tower was used in 1518 for imprisoning eight women for witchcraft before they were burned -not as charming a piece of history as the quaint village feel of the place would suggest today. 

Our goal is to get in as much of the lake as possible in a day, so we sit just long enough to enjoy a gelato and write postcards under a cluster of shade trees in the square. 
We stop at the Tabacchi on the corner to get stamps; an experience in its own right. In addition to what the name suggests (tobacco shop), they sell a wide variety of odds and ends like stamps, maps, candy, watches, and bizarre souvenirs. (I wish I had brought one home to remind me). 

A 30-minute drive along the east shore of Lake Iseo takes us to the town of Iseo on the south end. A  lakeside promenade and open piazzas create a quaint scene for people watching.

Lake Iseo is one of the deepest in Europe and in the middle of it sits the island of Monte Isola (Montisola), accessible by ferry.

Picturesque villages dot the island, where the main source of income is still fishing and net-making. On the pier, we hear the soothing soft clanking of the fishing gear as the wooden boats bob against the dock.
Fresh air and quiet streets (no cars allowed), olive and chestnut groves, and sprawling vineyards make this island a vacationer's paradise. 
Most of the tourists are Italians and other Europeans.

You can hike to the peak of the island on meandering paths (600m / 0.4mi) and find the sanctuary of Madonna della Ceriola, which is still in use as a place of worship.

To finish off our island tour -and to freshen up- we take a spontaneous dip in the lake. The shore is rocky but manageable.
Drying off by a grove, we notice it's kiwifruit growing here. Italy is now the leading producer of this fruit. Who knew!

                                 We very nearly miss the last ferry back!

A few of my favorite things:

evening stroll (passeggiata) on the lakeside promenade when families and couples come out to eat together at the open-air restaurants

pasta, pasta, pasta

fresh olive oil

gelati of numerous flavors
"A day without gelato is a day wasted!"
(an Italian saying)

the Italian zest for life

drinking fountains 
thin crust pizza
(toppings galore)

old men on the corner 
flailing their arms with gusto

cheek-kisses and firm embraces

    the    alleyways

                                                    the use of color in architecture
                                                         -how can you not love life!

                                                      A piece of my heart stays here.

                                                                 CIAO BELLA!


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