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Home » Podcast » Monte Isola: history, how to get there and what to see. Let the podcast tell you about it E-VAI!

Monte Isola is the largest lake island in Europe. On the island you will feel like you have gone back in time as there are no cars except those of the parish priest, the doctor and the mayor. The only vehicles allowed on the island are a public bus, residents' motorcycles, and bicycles, which can be ferried or rented on site. Monte Isola is connected to the mainland by a ferry service and the closest and most convenient point from which you can reach the island is Sulzano. Here it is possible to take the ferry to Peschiera Maraglio, an ancient village of fishermen and artisans where fishing and hunting nets are produced. This village is very characteristic with the seventeenth-century church of S. Michele and its ancient streets that climb steeply towards the mountain. From here you can take two routes: one goes around the island, the other heads north to the end of the island.

Do you want to have it told with the adventures of Filippo and Marco? Listen to the episode on the podcast E-VAI!

Monte Isola: how to get there

How to get there, with E-VAI, it's very easy: just rent a car E-VAI in one of the over 150 stations in Lombardy, the electric charging will be complete and included in the price.

Once you jump aboard E-VAI, from the A4 Turin-Trieste motorway take the Ospitaletto exit, then follow the signs for Iseo first and then Sulzano. Arrived in Sulzano, thanks to E-Vai, you can park safely on the blue lines: paid parking is included in the car rental thanks to the agreement between E-Vai and the province of Brescia.

Monte Isola: Peschiera Maraglio

With the ferry from Sulzano you arrive at Peschiera Maraglio, the main point which, since the Middle Ages, has supplied all the nets and boats of the Monte Isola fishermen with the freshest fish.
This place is one of the symbols of the entire island, actually one of the few, because the rest of the island is covered with uncontaminated vegetation.
In fact, many tourists rent bikes and mountain bikes to visit parks, nature reserves and caves.
Peschiera Maraglio has become essential over the years for the production of fishing nets which are still used today on the NAER.
It is precisely here that the first companies producing fishing nets were born and obviously also the means from which to launch these nets, namely handmade wooden boats.

Walking around the village there is an architectural salad: streets, arches, stairs, small houses, medium-sized houses and large houses, the Oldofredi castle, built just over 1000 years ago.

This village has become very famous in recent years, starting from 2016, because this place was the natural canvas of the Floating Piers, an artistic installation conceived and created by Christò, who built a floating platform of a very bright orange colour, which allows the people to walk from Monte Isola to Sulzano.

Monte Isola: Carzano, and its Flower Festival

Continuing along the coast of Peschiera Maraglio, on foot or by bike, it is possible to reach Carzano. This village is characterized by a beautiful pavement of square stones which forms a particular abstract mosaic that leads to the small port on the right. From an architectural point of view, the village is made up of colorful houses and a beautiful passage inside the gut that resembles the Ligurian ones.

The Flower Festival of Carzano, known as this by everyone, is actually called the "Festa di Santa Croce" by the residents. Organized every five years between Carzano and Novale, this festival is held in September.

It has been held for about 150 years, after a serious cholera crisis was averted, so all the inhabitants made a vow to the Madonna of Ceriola.
On this occasion, all the inhabitants are committed to creating beautiful floral compositions, all rigorously handmade, to transform the villages into colorful dreams.

The highlight of the entire festival is September 14th: the exaltation of the Holy Cross is represented by a procession, along the various villages, of this holy relic which has been preserved since the 700th century. During all the previous days, on the beaches of the lake there there will be fireworks, parties, stalls, that is, everything that can make the late summer evenings live peacefully.

Monte Isola: Siviano

Still to the north, but with its back to Carzano, here is Siviano with its small port. About ten small houses, perched on top of each other, which allow themselves to breathe thanks to some narrow streets that pass around them, and which are interspersed with many lowered and pointed arches. Acting as guardian is the Martinengo tower, which keeps company with the bell tower of the church of Saints Faustina Giovita.
The port of Siviano on the island is decidedly famous, as trout was fished here with nets 250 m long and up to 60 m wide; in addition to trout, roaches were also fished, but about 500 years ago a council in Northern Italy defined that they couldevaDo not fish only in the months of June and July, so as not to extinguish the population of this fish. As well as for sardines and courini.

Monte Isola: Menzino, Rocca Martinengo, Sensole

Menzino is the smallest town in Monte Isola, characterized by a very medium styleevaI infuse them mainly from Palazzo Zirotti, known by the islanders as “the doctor's house; a 17th century construction from which the rest of the town was then built. Over the years there was a desire to redevelop this building with a new multipurpose cultural centre, but then the project was abandoned, but fortunately it can still be visited, thanks to the routes which were entirely built in wood so as not to distort the entire architectural complex native to.

Looking up you can see the Oldofredi Castle, which has now become the Rocca Martinengo after it was rebuilt and purchased by this family.

For the construction of the castle, one of the most panoramic positions on the whole island was chosen: a rocky spur facing the Bergamo shore exactly in front of Tavernola, a strategic point because it allowedeva to keep an eye on the entire lake from north to south.

Today the castle is privately owned. At the center of the castle there is a square base and a beautiful tower which has been there since 1400, the year of its construction. This tower is very important because it is characterized by an old legend. Once upon a time, one of the owners of the castle was considered very wicked and ruthless, because every other day he enjoyed sinking fishing boats with his cannon from the castle's watchtower when the boats were approaching the fortress, he decidedevano not to lower the sail. The gesture of lowering the sail was obviously a gesture of respect and submission towards the lord who found himself having to see his landscape defaced before his eyes without a solution.

It sank so many boats that it became a serious problem for the area; then it was decided to make this gesture of submission on the part of the fishermen, an obligatory gesture, not so much towards the lord of the castle, but towards the blessed virgin who on the island had always been a source of inspiration for the prayers of the faithful, painting her on a rock, called Herf rock, and from here the iconography of the Madonna della Ceriola was born.

On one side the castle winks at Menzino, and on the other side it winks at Sensole. This village is the favorite of those who decide to have a nice picnic for lunch or a nice aperitif to end the evening watching the red sunset that stands out on the sides of the mountains and hills. This gulf area is called the "gulf of olive trees ”, given its particular vegetation.

Monte Isola: Madonna della Ceriola

Returning to Peschiera Maraglio, after completing the tour around the perimeter of the island, and keeping the port on the right, you can reach a crossroads that leads to the sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola and Senzano. Heading thus into the hinterland of the island, you take a small road that leads to Senzano, a beautiful perched village overlooking Lake Iseo. Continuing straight on, you arrive at Cure, another town made up of a few houses perched on the rock.

Going up even further after Cure, you finally arrive at the sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola.

This place has truly ancient origins. The end of the Roman empire had just begun, therefore around the 5th century AD, and San Vigilio, the very famous and irreproachable bishop of Brescia, decided to expand the Christian faith in the Sebino area, whereeva the cult of the pagan goddess Isis is imposing and imperious. Faith in Jesus Christ began to take hold, establishing the cult of sacred devotion to the Madonna.
As a symbol to represent this change within Monte Isola, he decided to build a small chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This symbol whereeva express and communicate the purification of the area from all the various pagan beliefs, obviously not accepted by the Catholic church. This chapel became the first parish on the whole island, initially called Santa Maria de Curis, then renamed Madonna della Ceriola.

It was March 14, 1580, and the archbishop of Milan, San Carlo Borromeo, decided to completely restore it by changing the structure and original architecture of the building: a new presbytery, a new iron gate to divide the sacred area and the area of ​​the faithful , a new barrel roof, and on the sides two chapels to place the altar of San Fermo and subsequently an altarpiece depicting San Giuseppe.

Numerous other changes followed over the years: in 1750 a beautiful granite bell tower was built and an appropriate adaptation of the facade was made; in the middle of the first quartile of 1800, on a dark early summer evening where the lights of the candles alternate with the light of the flashes and the noise of the lightning, the plaster of a wall peeled off, making what was underneath magically appear, that is, a fresco still perfect of a Christ Ecce homo by Giovanni da Marone.

The view outside the sanctuary, and also from the road with the various chapels that lead up to its presence, is so beautiful that it takes your breath away.

Monte Isola: 360° view over the entire lake

Exactly opposite to the entrance to the sanctuary, there is a rock spur that allows you to have a 360° view of the entire Lake Iseo and all the mountains that surround this water basin: Pizzo Coca and the Pizzo di Redorta which exceeds 3000 metres, the Pizzo del Diavolo di Tenda which almost reaches 3000 metres, and then down the Cima Soliva, the Pizzo di Cigola, Monte Kia Bianca, Monte Predella and so on, there is you're spoiled for choice.

Once the downhill path is over, you find yourself on the road from which you went up to reach Cure, and from here you return to Peschiera Maraglio, ready to resume the return journey towards Sulzano.

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