Lake Iseo bicycle loop: riding around a gem!
Lake Iseo, also known as Sebino, is one of the lakes of Lombardy. Lying between the Province of Bergamo and the Province of Brescia, it is still unknown to mass tourism and this is a reason why it is suitable for bicycle tourism. Around Lake Iseo by bicycle can start from one of the many little villages on the banks of the lake, but for convenience's sake we're going to start from Riva di Solto, on the Bergamo side, where you can park your car and eat a good ice cream on the finish line to celebrate the challenge.
This bicycle tour around Lake Iseo follows the circumnavigation of the lake for 66 km of cycleways and secondary roads, that during the weekends and the high season could be pretty busy.
From Riva di Solto to Costa Volpino
Starting from the center of Riva di Solto, on the shiny water of the lake, you can pedal clockwise towards Lovere. The road crossing the village is sometimes closed to car traffic in summer, so it could be pretty quiet.Following the lakefront road, you quickly reach an area of beaches running along the tunnel.
The old road, under the Orrido del Bogn (Bogn ravine), is partially forbidden due to the risk of rocks falling on it, but it's so beautiful that it'd be a shame not to pedal on it. Furthermore, it's the only way to avoid the tunnel.
The lakefront, born in 1910, finishes in less than 1 km on the SS469, one of the most stunning roads of Lombardy.
The road SS649 around Lake Iseo develops directly over the water, with dangerous turns, short tunnels dug in the rocks and some fall near Castro.
It's officially open to the cars, so pay attention! During some events it is closed to cars... we hope that in the future it will be closed during the weekends, and so accessible to bicycles and pedestrians.
The road soon reaches Castro then goes towards Lovere, one of the most beautiful villages of Italy. The lakefront in Lovere is the only access to the village, that boasts colorful little streets, old churches like San Giorgio and elegant squares like the most important Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II.
The itinerary around Lake Iseo goes on without crossing the city center of Lovere, even if we suggest a short visit if time permits.You ride on Via Nazionale until a parking lot just before the gas station Tamoil. You have to turn right following the signs for the cycleway and riding on secondary roads until Costa Volpino.
The signs bring you on the village cycle road, sometimes on a dirt road, following the lakefront and becoming, even for a short leg, the Valcamonica cycleway that crosses the Oglio Nord Mouth Avifaunistic Park.
You will pedal along the Oglio river to then leave the cycleway and cross the Ponte Barcotto.
Once crossed the river, you have to ride for almost 2 km the main road connecting Costa Volpino to Pisogne that is pretty congested but also wide. Be careful!
From Pisogne on the East bank
Riding towards Pisogne you will soon reach the train station and the small port just before the main square, where you can stop for a while. During the weekends Pisogne is alive and rich of cyclists visiting the lake by mountain bike or carrier or road bike.From the small square in Pisogne just along Via Roma you can follow the cycleway on the lakefront, the continuation of the Valcamonica CycleWay, becoming mixed road after 500m. You pass the river Valle Trobiolo and you keep riding along the Iseo Lake: the views become more and more charming, with Lovere on the other side, the Orobic mountains and the Adamello ones still white and the quiet surface of the lake... In Toline, the Valcamonica CycleWay becomes a cycle and pedestrian way passing on the old road just underneath the Trenta Passi peak.
The cycleway Toline - Vello is a really suggestive path and offers some beautiful views on Lake Iseo riding along the water under some tunnels under the Trenta Passi peak. Each Sunday many cyclists choose to ride on this path lakefront, by parking in Vello, where the cycleway ends.
From Vello the road becomes mixed. It is not so dangerous, because the traffic is really minimal: you'll reach Marone, a village on the oil road, where you can ride along the river Opolo until the main road appears again.
Following the railway, you reach Lake Iseo again and you keep riding parallel to it. After Marone, there is Sale Marasino, once divided into two different villages: Sale Sul Lago and Marasino Collinare and already populated during the Roman Empire. Villa Martinengo Portazzuolo catches the eye with its court structure on the lake, one of the most famous historic villas of Sebino (from the 16th century).
After Sale Marasino you'll see Sulzano with less than 2000 souls being the main link to the splendid Montisola.
Montisola, being connected in June 2016 for 15 days to the Brescian side through a yellow bridge by the architect Christo, is a great place to be explored on a mountain bike, so if you have the occasion, don't miss it out!
After Sulzano you enter Iseo with its district Pilzone divided by the lake and a hill called Montecolo.
Passing over the hill and riding along the railway you can enter the cycleway to Iseo, at the southern point of the lake.
Iseo and the peat bog
Iseo town is the most touristic of the entire lake. It is only 20km from Brescia and it is crossed an itinerary connecting Bergamo to Desenzano.
Riding a bicycle in Iseo is pleasant and you can take advantage of your time here visiting Pieve di Sant'Andrea, from the 5th century, the Oldofredi Castle and the Natural Peat Bog Reserve of Sebino where you can do some birdwatching. Iseo is part of the Franciacorta area, so if you love good wine, we suggest to try a glass in the village.From the center, you go straight along Via per Rovato until a roundabout where you find a sign of Itinerary n° 1 of Franciacorta. Don't mind the sign, turn right along the cycleway, pass the camping and keep riding on the secondary road, following the itinerary 1 (yellow path) of Franciacorta. The track around Lake Iseo slowly goes uphill between green fields and the Sebino peat bog.
You pedal towards Clusane meeting the itinerary n° 3 of Franciacorta (green path) and towards Paratico, the door on Franciacorta and the last village in the Province of Brescia on the lake.
The bridge over the Oglio river indicates the beginning of the Province of Bergamo in Sarnico.
From Sarnico on the Bergamo bank
Some findings of piles on the Lake Iseo banks allowed to retrace the origins of Sarnico. The lakeside here, pleasant and living, is also unique to pedal and allows to reach a picturesque boardwalk on water. The symbol of Sarnico is a middle-ages tower with a clock-tower in the city center.
From the boardwalk, you can follow a secondary small road towards the SS469 where you find some legs on cycleways and mixed road. In this area, there are some of the most beautiful beaches of the lake and in summer they are packed! The coast is still pretty wild and, apart from some buildings, the small beaches alternate to fields full of flowers.
In just a few km you reach Predore, a beautiful little village that you can see from the distance because of its particular skyline. From Predore you pedal on a mixed road along the western bank of Sebino. On the left, you will meet the Chiesetta di San Giorgio while on the right you will appreciate the curves on the clear water.
Just before Tavernola Bergamasca, where you'll travel through a dark tunnel, you'll find a closed gate on a cycleway. Thanks to an old local man, we could access it just once entered the tunnel: the cycleway allows to deviate from the dangerous leg of the road, but it is often closed due to landslides and no village takes it upon itself. To access it will be at your own risk and peril. I can only say that this leg is, in my humble opinion, one of the best around the lake because you see Montisola from a great point of view and you can avoid the tunnel.
In order to leave the cycleway, it is necessary to come again in the tunnel for 100 m and ride till the end (I suggest using a rear light to show your position to the cars!).
Tavernola is another unexpected village on the lake and the small port and the clock tower will surprise you. You now have only 7 km to Riva di Solto, slightly uphill. From Tavernola you'll find a 400m tunnel (remember to turn your rear light on) and an ascending road to località Zu, but I'm sure anyone can ride on it without any effort.
Riva di Solto welcomes cyclists with its flatness where you can enjoy a good coffee admiring the lake or have good homemade ice cream. You can see its 5 towers and the castle, with an ascent to Solto Collina for real connaisseurs... but this is another story!
You can find some information about Lake Iseo on the official website of the Tourism Board of Sebino.
ENG - I'm from Piedmont and I'm 31 years old, I have been living and working in Lombardy for a few years. After a start without any competence in this field, I then approached the bicycle world more and more. Today I can call myself a bicycle traveller and videomaker who would never ever stop. Cyclo ergo sum, I cycle therefore I am. I ride my bike trying to understand why it is so beautiful, rich, therapeutic. And every time I try, I do not understand it. So I must leave again...
ITA - Ho 31 anni e sono piemontese, anche se da qualche anno vivo e lavoro in Lombardia. Dopo un inizio da totale inesperto in questo campo, mi sono avvicinato al mondo dei cicloviaggi e della bicicletta sempre più. Oggi posso definirmi "cicloviaggiatore", e assieme all'altra mia passione - il videomaking - non mi fermerei mai! Cyclo ergo sum, pedalo quindi sono, per cercare di capire perché andare in bici sia così bello, terapeutico, ricco... E ogni volta che provo a capirlo, non ce la faccio, e sono costretto a ripartire sui pedali!
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