Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 24, 2019

Franciacorta and Lake Iseo

My son, who is a winemaker, is visiting from Australia. We set off to discover the delights of Franciacorta, a small, and relatively new wine making area in Lombardia in northern Italy.

Franciacorta is in the province of Brescia and extends from Mount Orfano on the south eastern area to the shores of Lake Iseo, and from river Oglio on the eastern border to the city of Brescia in the west.

We stayed in the southern town of Cazzago San Martino. It was a great base, the wine area is quite small and we were close to everything.

Our first winery was Ca del Bosco, just 10 minutes from our B&B. The tours were booked out so we wandered in the gorgeous grounds and visited their shop.

We booked a wine tour at Ferghettina. It was fabulous and I will tell you about it in the next post.

We went to Iseo on the lake for an evening stroll and dinner. This lovely town has a medieval centre. Piazza Garibaldi in the heart of the town is surrounded by colonnaded buildings and painted facades.

Aperitivo in the piazza beside Garibaldi seemed like a good idea.

We followed with dinner. We tried the local dried sardines with herb polenta and pasta with tomatoes and the tiny lake prawns…both delicious.

The second day of our visit was drizzly and damp, but we set off to Lake Iseo and drove all the way around the lake. It is beautiful, even on a wet autumn day and is dotted with pretty villages. The lake and mountain scenery is spectacular.

Our first stop was Sarnico at the southern end of the lake.

A tower beckoned is into Pisogne, with good reason. It has a grizzly history.

The 13th century Bishop’s tower has a colourful past. The Bishop punished those who couldn’t pay the taxes by imprisoning them in a cage fixed to the tower and subjecting them to public ridicule. This kind of torture was used by ecclesiastic princes because their ministery prevented them from administering punishment by loss of blood.

Tradition tells that during the obscure and terrible period from the 15th to the 16th century when in the Valle Camonica the witch hunting took place, 8 women were imprisoned inside the Bishop’s tower. They were burned in the market square in June 1518.

We could not decide which archway was involved in the next incident.

According to folklore the first archway to the right gave access to the butchers of the infamous legendary bandit Giorgio Vicano, who in the first decades of the 1700s dominated the area and, together with his gang, tormented and bullied all of the lower Valley. Here in his own shop he fell victim to an ambush carried out by one of his comrades: he was shot and decapitated and his head, salted and wrapped in laurel leaves, was taken to the Consiglio Dieci in Venice as proof of his death in order to collect the reward.

By the time we had finished reading all the information in the square it was lunchtime so we followed the umbrellas to Trani,a great little restaurant nearby.

After a walk beside the lake we moved on.

We spotted Monte Isola, an island in the lake and stopped at Sulzano to catch the ferry. It was helpfully labelled Boat. The weather improved a little at this stage of the trip.

This would be a gorgeous place to stay for a few days. The island has an extensive grid of dedicated bike lanes and hiking trails and lots of lakeside cafes. Vehicles are only allowed for residents, who mostly ride scooters.

We walked along the walkway beside the lake.

There is a sculpture of the drying lake fish.

These trees grow in the water.

A tiny island sits a short distance from Monte Isola.

A fort keeps guard.

In 2016 Cristo brought fame to the island when he wrapped floating walkways in bright orange to join the island to the mainland for a couple of weeks. We found these photos on display boards.

Franciacorts and Lake Iseo are delightful places in northern Italy to spend some time. I will certainly be back, probably in spring and will hope for better weather. It was beautiful anyway, but sunshine would make the views even more special.

We stayed at Il Glicine. It was excellent. The rooms have been recently renovated, the breakfast was great and there is a good restaurant on site…and free parking. What more could you want?

Il Glicine, 32 Via Calchera, Cazzago San Martino.


  1. Ah, Frianciacorta! Years ago since I visited that area

    • It is a lovely area, and the lake is gorgeous.

      • Indeed it is!

  2. Thank you . A very interesting post. I see Ca del Bosco has a Mittoraj in it’s grounds. We have never been to that area. We are Granaiola neighbours of yours.

    • I have seen work by that sculptor in several places, including Sicily and nearby Pietrasanta. Franciacorta and Lake Iseo are beautiful places to visit with lots to keep you busy.

  3. Sounds like the perfect stay especially to take your son to!

    • We had a great time driving around the lake and sampling delicious food and wine.

  4. Looks like a delightful trip! Thanks for sharing.

    • It was a fun few days.

  5. Great trip and with a lovely companion

    • It has been fun. Brandon has proven to be an excellent travelling companion.

  6. This looks like a fabulous trip Deb in a very beautiful part of Italy.

  7. […] autumn last year I visited Bergamo Alta and the winemaking areas of Franciacorta, and Langhe. It would be fun to go back in spring to see these gorgeous places in a different […]

Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: