An Italian property expert highlights why Lake Iseo in Italy is proving increasingly popular with astute house buyers.
The more widely-known Lakes Como, Maggiore, Garda and Orta pull the world’s rich and famous. But more and more property hunters who come to Northern Italy’s Lakes region are ignoring the popular trends and heading for the unhurried banks of Lake Iseo, a name that barely registers outside Italy but one that is as equally attractive as the area’s more high-profile waters.
Lake Iseo has just as attractive properties, in particular those offering panoramic views overlooking the serene expanse of water. There is one crucial difference: they are much less pricy, with price tags barely half of what you would face in Lake Garda, just over 30km away. For instance a three-bedroom villa close to Lake Iseo may cost around Euro 200,000-Euro 220,000, while you can expect to pay from just Euro 100,000 for a two-bedroom apartment with lake view and terrace or garden.
Furthermore, no fewer than four airports lie within an hour and a half’s drive – one in Brescia, one in Bergamo and two in Milan. Just one sign to the rising attraction of this hidden gem is evident in the gradually rising number of vehicles bearing foreign number plates on Iseo’s charming streets and avenues in high season.
Stef Russo, director at Italian real estate finders The Property Organiser said: “We’re telling our clients who are mulling over bigger lakes such as Como and Maggiore to certainly take a look at Iseo. It’s an area that is comparatively unknown, not spoilt by a mass tourist influx and close to a clutch of airports as well as the Swiss border. We believe property values here will show positive movement over the next few years.”
To force home the point, property prices averaged over Northern Italy’s lakes fell by 4.2% – slumping by nearly 9% in some towns overlooking Lake Maggiore, a report last year by real estate group Tecnocasa revealed. Lake Iseo weathered the storm best, showing a less-than 2% contraction.
The lake is sandwiched between Lake Como to the west and Garda to the east and a few miles north of Brescia and Bergamo. Milan is 80km away, or 90 minutes by road and 60 by rail.
It is the country’s seventh biggest lake, some 15 miles long and three miles wide , runs north to south and is sheltered by mountains. It is an idyllic spot for swimmers, divers, sailors, windsurfers, water-skiers and anglers.
The lake also contains Mt Isola, home to 2,000 people and Southern Europe’s largest inhabited lake island. The island, one of the lake’s chief attractions is linked to the shore by short ferry hops. With virtually no motor vehicles, Mt Isola is very tranquil and is tailor-made to be explored by walking or cycling, in particular the paths to a church at the top of the island. Monte Isola is also renowned for its net-making industry, which began with fishermen’s nets but has now expanded to include hammocks and tennis and volleyball nets.
Back on the lake’s shores, the most picturesque towns are on the eastern side, such as Iseo, Marone and Sulzano. Iseo has the greatest number of attractions, including an uncompleted 12th century church.
The surrounding countryside is dotted with charming medieval buildings that can be found on foot, bike or horseback. And in winter, the ski slopes of Montecampione are particularly popular. Take into account that as this is bordering an Alpine region, some riding and trekking trails are on steep inclines.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adriana Giglioli writes for Homes and Villas Abroad, who advertise nearly 3,000 houses for sale in Italy.
Where to stay in Iseo
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Lombardia in Cucina: The Flavours of Lombardy
Milan-style risotto, pizzoccheri Valtellinesi, and pumpkin tortelli to start; casoeula, Milan-style cutlets, frogs stewed in tomato to follow, and to send, a slice of sbrisolona cake or panettone.
Lombardy surprises with the richness of its culinary traditions and natural ingredients, which modernity has barely affected.
"Milano in Cucina" captures this kaleidoscope of flavours, with contributions from some of the most celebrated chefs on the culinary scene, who pay homage to their territory, and whose skill is able to present a modern vision in keeping with the region's progressive spirit.
The Italian Academy of Cuisine
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy
Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.
Milano in Cucina: The Flavours of Milan
The famous Risotto Alla Milanese gets its golden hue from the precious spice saffron. Legend has it that the dish came about when a Milanese painter decided to gild the risotto served at his wedding banquet with a harmless gold-colored dye. In Milan, they traditionally serve Risotto Alla Milanese with ossobuco (braised veal shank).
Traditionally made with raisins and candied citron, or with a creamy cream filling, the light, fluffy brioche-like bread called panettone may be tall or short, covered with chocolate or flavored with various liquors, but it’s always a symbol of the Christmas season.
With its hallmark domed shape, panettone graced Christmas tables in Milan since at least the 15th-century. Common knowledge claims its invention is from Milan. It is the most famous Christmas Lombardia food.
The Pax side of the Moon featuring Cesareo
Lombardia (Dicon tutti che sei mia) Quarantine Version - feat. Cesareo (Quarantine Version)