We have had some amazing opportunities to travel through my work. One of which was our recent trip to Italy. Italy has always been on my bucket list to visit, yes I had never been before. So when Fly BMI invited Dan and I to try a ‘fly drive’ with them, I couldn’t say no, right?
Flying out of our local airport, Bristol, we flew into Milan/Bergamo airport close to the lakes. Picking up our hire car courtesy of Sixt, we drove the short 45mins to Lake Iseo. An easy route, mainly of the motorway and then a direct road to the lake.
Lake Iseo. Dream like, shimmering blue with staggering mountains all around. Lake Iseo is one of the lesser known Italian lakes, with it’s larger cousins Como and Garda taking centre stage with the tourists. But this means that Iseo is quieter and known to be more romantic.
We arrived in the pretty village of Sulzano, nestled on the banks of the Lake. Our hotel – Hotel Rivalago, with views of the lake and Monte Islea (the large mountainous island in the lake). Checking in we sat on the lawn in the evening sun, view of the lake, ducks quacking and g&t in hand. Utter bliss.
Our room, at Hotel Rivalago, was in a newly renovated building in a small courtyard behind the hotel. Still with a glimpse of the lake from the balcony, our room was simply yet stylishly decorated, with local stone flooring, white walls and pretty daisy fabric wallpaper. The bathroom was large, in the same stone and with a large walk in shower. All important aircon and a small mini bar, should you need it.
That evening we sat on the hotel terrace and ate a beautiful meal of pea risotto (the best I ate in the whole trip), followed by seared steak and rosemary potatoes – all washed down with local rose wine.
The following morning after the hotel continental style breakfast buffet, we headed through the cobbled lanes of Sulzano to catch the ferry over to Monte Islea. The ferry runs from the dock just a 5min walk from the hotel, and takes you to the Island, and back to Iseo if needed, leaving every 20mins.
Gosh it was hot! Too hot to walk around exploring, so we plonked ourselves down in a restaurant and watched the world go by. We would have to come and explore the island in the cool of the evening. Monte Islea is such a pretty island, with gorgeous little houses with red geraniums and the locals bustling around on mopeds.
That afternoon, we headed back to Sulzano by ferry to collect the car, for a drive around the Lake Iseo. Travelling north around the island we headed to Lovere, which is supposed to the prettiest on the lake. We marvelled at the church and ate gelato, as we wandered the streets. On through the most dramatic of roads, through tunnels and terrifying cliff drops… we wound our way around the lake.
Hundreds of locals were fishing beside the road, using huge bendy roads to haul up lake fish, perch I think. There were so many of them, it was sometimes difficult to get passed in the car.
Back in Sulzano, a music festival was happening. Dan and I dashed back out to enjoy burrata bruschetta and beer by the harbour wall. A buzzing community feel, with local artists, street food all with the most beautiful backdrop, the Lake.
The next day we visited the City of Bergamo, but I’ll share all about that in another post.
Lake Iseo – what we did:
Stayed – Hotel Rivalago
What to do – Ferry to the Island, explore the back streets of the villages
Where to eat – at the hotel and at Milago on Monte Isola
Collaboration Note: We were invited by FlyBMI and Visit Bergamo to explore Lake Iseo and the surrounded area in return for this review. All words, thoughts and images are my own. Thank you for supporting this blog.