Monte Isola on Lake Iseo: what to see, various info and ferries

Who I am
Alejandra Rangel

Author and references

As a child, I didn't go there often, although it was very fascinating to me. I then had the opportunity, in the following years, to appreciate it independently. Now that I live in the splendid Franciacorta, I can go there more often, even for a simple dinner overlooking the lake. (Read also: What to do and how to visit Franciacorta).

Although I had already included it in the article on 15 things to see on Lake Iseo, I had not yet written an article all about Montisola.

In this article you will find all the information you need to be able to appreciate Monte Isola regardless of whether yours is a weekend visit (highly recommended) or a small day trip.

It might interest you: What to see in Brescia.

What is Montisola? Some historical / geographical hints

Monte Isola is considered one of the largest lake islands in Europe; became very famous after the Floating Piers event of 2016. Christo for two weeks he made it the set of one of his most beautiful artistic creations. Immense orange-colored floating piers that connected Sulzano, Peschiera Maraglio and the island of San Paolo. 2 weeks of total chaos, thousands of visitors to an area that, until recently, had never had such fame.

Thus Monte Isola was discovered by the world, even if the people of Brescia knew it for a long time before.

What is Monte Isola? A small floating paradise where there are no cars, but only mopeds, bicycles and some buses that move between the main centers of the island.

There are 12 hamlets, some in the mountains, others on the lake and the municipal area also includes the two small islets of San Paolo and Loreto.

If you are curious about the geological history of the area and therefore also of Montisola, I recommend that you read this PDF (are a few pages).

The locations on the island

As I said earlier, some villages are closely related to the lake and others perched on the various slopes.

In contact with Lake Iseo: Peschiera Maraglio (south / east), Sensole (south / west), port of Siviano (north / west), Carzano (north / east).

Inserted in the hilly context: Masse, Cure, Olzano, Siviano, Menzino, Senzano, Sinchignano, Novale.

Where to sleep?

If yours is not going to be a daily visit, sleeping on Monte Isola could be a really interesting experience.

CLICK HERE to see all the solutions on Monte Isola.

How to get to Monte Isola?

There are several ways to reach Montisola, all of which obviously end with taking the ferry.

By bus: you have to get off at Sulzano or Sale Marasino.

By train: you can use the Brescia - Iseo - Edolo train, getting off at the Sulzano or Sale Marasino stop. Attention, it also stops in Rovato, so for those coming from Milan or Bergamo it is possible to take the connection at this station.

By car: find the information in the next paragraphs, especially regarding parking.

Where is it?

In the middle of Lake Iseo, a few kilometers from the splendid Franciacorta which I highly recommend you visit. As well as I recommend that you visit all the other beautiful places in the area. Not far from Monte Isola, continuing in Valle Camonica, you can also visit the famous rock carvings in the various protected parks such as that of Naquane (UNESCO heritage).

Ferries to Montisola

Fundamental point: to get to Montisola, unless you own a boat, you will have to use the boats / ferries that shuttle between:

  • Sale Marasino and Carzano (Northern part of the island)
  • Sulzano and Peschiera Maraglio (southern part of the island)

Working Time: in the daily range from 8.00 to 20.00, there are approximately ferries every 15 minutes between Sulzano and Peschiera and approximately every 20/25 minutes between Sale Marasino and Carzano. The connections also take place at night, but under certain conditions (night time around between 00.00 and 05.00).

However, I recommend that you read more on the Navigazione Lago d'Iseo website -> HERE you will find the timetables.

Rates: the single ticket costs € 2,10 per adult. A / R = € 4,20 to which 1 € of Montisola landing tax is added. For all rates, even for those traveling with bicycles or dogs, I recommend find out more about the rates HERE. On the linked site you will also find information if you wish to discover other places on Lake Iseo by moving by boat.

Where to buy tickets?

Tickets for the ferry to Monte Isola can be purchased in the bar in front of the pier (for Sale Marasino), in the ticket office or in the bars near the pier (for Sulzano).

Are you traveling with your dog?

If you are traveling with your 4-legged friend, know that you can bring your dog with you on the island. I highly recommend it because it will be very nice to walk or do some paths with him / her. But be careful that to get on the boats it is leash and muzzle required. If you don't have a muzzle, you can possibly buy it at the ticket office in Sulzano (provided they have one available).

Where to park to take the ferry to Montisola?

Good question. No kidding, don't worry, there is room but if you want to fully enjoy the day, without stressing yourself out in the search for parking, the advice is arrive early in Sulzano or Sale Marasino and park in one of the many paid parking lots.

Once in Sulzano, continue right on the uphill road that you will find at the only traffic light in the town on the main road. You will find several parking spaces available.

If, on the other hand, you want to leave from Sale Marasino, there will be a little less parking available near the landing stage. Along the main road, one kilometer before reaching the ferry area, you will find however also free parking, but with a parking disc.

Monte Isola: what to see and do, 10 suggestions

Ok, now that I have explained to you in detail how to reach Montisola, let's see the experiences to do, what to see ... and why not, what to taste on the island.

1 - Tour around the whole of Montisola on foot or by bike

In Montisola there are no cars, there are few scooters and many bikes. You can move between the various locations using a city bus, but if you have chosen a natural paradise like Monte Isola, it will be because you want to enjoy a little peace and isolate yourself from the noise of every day, discovering the various views of the lake.

You can cycle or walk the coastal road that for most of its route continues along the lake. It is about 10 km of walking or cycling. I guarantee you will appreciate them very much. And if you bring your own towel, you might even think about lying on some lawn and enjoying the view of the lake.

2 - Go up to the Ceriola Sanctuary

The top of Montisola. You look at it from afar and you know it will have to be your next goal… as long as you love to walk. The Ceriola Sanctuary is a "must do it”Of the things to see in Montisola.

You can get there with a medium difficulty walk. Nothing exceptional. Simple trekking shoes will suffice, or in any case shoes with a non-smooth sole. Avoid only shoes like "all star / moccasins / flip flops". Everything else is fine.

There are different trails that allow you to get to the Ceriola Sanctuary starting from the various villages. Here is the map to get a more complete idea of ​​the various itineraries. Consider that from Carzano or Peschiera Maraglio to the Sanctuary it takes about 60/70 minutes of walking according to the pitch you have.

Before the Sanctuary (coming from Carzano) you will find a small picnic area in the shade of the trees. Near the Sanctuary you will find a very small restaurant / bar where you can find something to eat and drink, even coffee if you want.

The view from the Ceriola Sanctuary

Why go up to the Ceriola Sanctuary? Because if it is a beautiful day and a clear sky, the views will repay you for all the effort made to get there.

History: if you want to deepen the historical / cultural / religious aspects I recommend learn more at this link.

Map of the Monte Isola trails (click to see the map in large format)

3 - Visit the mountain villages

Going up to the Sanctuary of Ceriola, you will have the opportunity to pass through several hamlets, as well as mountain villages of Montisola. You will notice that they will have a particular flavor. Small well-kept stone houses, very close to each other. Tiny villages but from irresistible charm, inserted between small olive groves and fields overlooking the lake.

4 - Visit the villages on the lake

Between Peschiera Maraglio, Sensole e Carzano you will be spoiled for choice.

Peschiera is the largest village and also the one to which the majority of tourists arrive. There are more activities such as bars and restaurants so it's ideal if you want something more "lively". Calling it "eventful" is an understatement, la tranquility reigns supreme also in Peschiera.

Sensole and Carzano are little gems you can't miss. More collections, with fewer tourists. In short, do you want the real advice? Visit all three!

5 - Take part in the Monte Isola Flower Festival

Point number 5, as 5 are the years between one Montisola Flower Festival and the next. It is called "Festa della Santa Croce" and involves the village of Carzano, in the north / east of the island. It is said that the festival was established in the seventeenth century and that from that moment the cyclicality has been strictly respected. In short, a party not to be missed where, for 4 days, the arches are covered with pine branches, paper flowers and lights. To find out more about the festival visit the Visit Montisola official website.

6 - Admire the two islets

The island of Loreto and the island of San Paolo are two privately owned islands. It's not bad to own an island on Lake Iseo. Well, you can therefore only see them from a distance, from the shores of Montisola.

With the event of Chisto, considering that the floating pontoons enveloped the island of San Paolo, there was the possibility to see it more closely.

7 - Taste the Montisola Sardines

Montisola is famous for its sardine, or rather for the agoni. Personally I love the Monte Isola Sardinian. Whenever I find her at the restaurant, I close the menu. Salted at the right point, with roasted polenta it is one of the typical dishes of the area.

The Montisola sardine is slowfood presidium, to know the process by which it is produced, you can learn more on the slow food site. Don't miss it because it is something exceptional.

8 - Buy typical products

Montisola will also be small with its solos 12,8 square kilometers of surface area, but in this "little" territory some real delicacies are produced.

3 they are the ones you cannot miss and you will definitely have to take home. First of all, the Montisola sardine, but I have already talked about that in the previous paragraph.

The other two typical products are:

  • Montisola salami: the meat is cut with a knife, then a salami that remains softer and with a particular grain. By cutting it, the difference from the traditional salami is evident simply by looking at the freshly cut slice.
  • Montisola oil: despite being a rather expensive product, it has a particular flavor and, obviously, it is produced only with olives from the island of Lake Iseo.

9 - Admire the Rocca di Martinengo

It is one of the most important monuments of Montisola. A real castle, called Castello degli Olofredi, behind the village of Sensole. Built in the 1600th century for defensive purposes, in the XNUMXth century it was bought by the Martinengo family. They did not stay there for long, so much so that in the early XNUMXs the castle was already in decline. In the sixties the fortress was bought by a family from Monza and is still a private property.

You can admire it up close, continuing towards Menzino, or from the top of the Ceriola Sanctuary.

10 - Visit the Network Museum

Montisola was one of the world capitals for the construction of fishing nets. Strange to say, but the island of Lake Iseo was one of the largest producers of nets in the world and for many centuries this activity was the main source of income for many of the families.

In a reality like that of Monte Isola, therefore, a Network Museum cannot be missing. It is a private museum located inside the oldest network factory.

Here is a short video made with images that can give you an idea of ​​what you can find in the Museum.

Audio Video Monte Isola on Lake Iseo: what to see, various info and ferries
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