Italian Lakes: Why Iseo Is Attracting The Bargain-Hunters
The better-known Lake Como, Maggiore, Garda and Orta may attract the international jetset. But growing numbers of foreigners investing in Italian Lakes real estate are disregarding the hordes of tourists and instead choosing the peaceful banks of Lake Iseo nearby, almost unheard of beyond the country's borders but one that is just as alluring as Italy's more famous waters.
Lake Iseo features equally attractive properties for sale, especially if they have majestic views looking over the lake's banks. However, they are far more affordable, often costing barely 50% of those in Lake Garda, some 20 miles away. As an example, £180,000 will typically be enough for a three-bedroom property near the lake. But if you are happy with fewer bedrooms, half of that should get you an apartment with panoramic lake views.
And four international airports lie less than 1hr 30mins away by road – one in Brescia, one in Bergamo and two in Milan. One indicator to the soaring allure of this hidden gem can be seen in the inexorably rising number of vehicles with number plates from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany on Iseo's charming streets in the holiday season.
An expert at The Property Organiser, a firm of Italian property finders, said: "We're advising our clients who are considering buying in lakes such as Maggiore, Como and Garda to certainly consider Iseo. It's an area that is comparatively unknown, untainted by mass tourism and within easy reach of several airports as well as the Swiss border. We believe the market here will rise in the coming years."
To buttress the point, Italy real estate prices throughout the country's Lakes region slipped by 4.2% – reaching nearly 9% in some parts of Lake Maggiore, a report last year by Italian property group Tecnocasa revealed. Lake Iseo weathered the storm best, showing a less-than 2% contraction.
The lake is found between Lakes Como and Garda and a few kilometres from the cities of Bergamo and Brescia. Milan is 80km away, or 90 minutes by road and 60 by rail.
It is Italy’s seventh largest lake, some 24km by 5km , runs north to south and is sheltered by mountains. It is an idyllic retreat for people who like to swim, dive, sail, windsurf, water-ski or fish.
Iseo's waters enclose Mount Isola, home to 2,000 people and Southern Europe's largest inhabited lake island. The two-mile isle is linked to the shore by regular ferry services. Devoid of cars and buses, Mt Isola is idyllic and serene and is tailor-made to be explored by walking or cycling, in particular the paths to a church at the top of the island. The isle is also renowned for its net-making industry, which started with fishermen's nets but has since expanded to include hammocks and tennis and volleyball nets.
Returning to the lake's shores, the most picturesque towns are on the eastern side, such as Iseo, Marone and Sulzano. Iseo is home to the greatest number of visitor attractions, including an uncompleted church dating back to the 1100s.
The surrounding countryside is dotted with monasteries, abbeys and castles that can be discovered on foot, bicycle or horseback. And in winter, Montecampione is famous for its skiing.