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Lake Iseo, Lombardy

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Gazing from an apartment terrace on an idyllic afternoon, the sun shimmers off the lake in front of you, while behind you lie Lombardy’s green rolling hillsides…and all this for just €95,000. Lake Como? Lake Garda? Lake Maggiore? No, no and no. Welcome to Lake Iseo, the hidden treasure of Italy’s lakes.

Lake Iseo may not be well-known beyond Italy’s borders – for now, anyway – but it offers landscapes and views just as stunning as those on more famous lakes. With two key differences – far fewer hordes of tourists; and Lake Iseo property is much more affordable, often just half the price of property on Italy’s other lakes.

Iseo lies in Italy’s Lombardy region, with Milan to the south-west, Lake Como to the west and Lake Garda to the east, all conveniently taking little more than an hour’s drive. Yet it is so tranquil in comparison it could almost be a whole world away. Lake Iseo property prices are also similarly understated – you might pay a mere €100,000 for a one-bedroom lake-view apartment and €120,000 for one with two bedrooms, while a three-bedroom property near Lake Iseo’s shores might cost from just €220,000.

Its location is quite handy, with five international airports within about one hour’s radius – Milan’s Malpensa and Linate as well as those in Bergamo, Brescia and Verona.

The scenery’s breathtaking, too. The water, 15 miles long and three miles wide, is overlooked by green hills and mountains, while the surrounding countryside is dotted with vineyards, medieval monasteries and castles that are a pleasure to discover on foot, bicycle or horseback. One of Lake Iseo’s best attractions is the 2,000ft Mt Isola, southern Europe’s biggest inhabited lake island. A short ferry hop takes you to the island, which is car-free, home to 2,000 residents and has a medieval Italian charm. Mt Isola is ringed by a cobbled, lakeside path while another leads to a church at the top of the mountain.

One sight worth seeing is in Marone on the eastern banks of the lake, where thousands of years of erosion have left mushroom-shaped columns to 100ft tall, topped by large granite boulders. Another is Val Camonica at the northern tip of Lake Iseo, where the valley is dotted with prehistoric rock carvings.

In addition, the lake is popular with fans of all types of water-based sports – swimming, diving, windsurfing, waterskiing and angling. And in winter, skiers head to nearby Montecampione. But if it all sounds too exhausting, the shops of Milan are never too far away…



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