Places to visit around Brescia
Surrounded by the vineyards covering the rolling hills of Franciacorta, the Abbey of San Nicola in Rodengo Saiano has an ancient history. It was founded at the end of the 11th century by Cluniac monks, representing a central point to offer shelter to wanderers and pilgrims travelling along the Via Valeriana (once the only connection between Brescia and the Camonica Valley).
In the mid-15th century, it became an abbey and passed into the hands of the Olivetans monks, still living there, who built this complex as you see it nowadays. You will experience the monks’ slow and calm rhythm of life and feel an atmosphere of peaceful spirituality, while visiting the church, the cloisters, the chapter house and the refectory. The abbey features many works of art, as for example paintings and frescoes by Lattanzio Gambara, Moretto, Romanino and Cossali. At the end of the tour, you can buy liqueurs and honey produced by the abbey monks.
At the bottom of the Camonica Valley, Lake Iseo, belonging both to the provinces of Brescia and Bergamo, stretches out at the foot of southern Pre-alps till the Sebino Natural Reserve, which includes basins of water and meadows. In the midst of the lake stands Montisola, the largest lake island in Europe and popular tourist destination, which features ancient villages mainly inhabited by fishermen and farmers. In the Brescian area, Iseo is the most famous centre but the 25 kilometres of shore are studded with several villages and small towns, adding charm to the wistful atmosphere of this ravishing lake. Further north, clinging to the mountains, small villages nestle in the natural environment, offering breathtaking views. Worth seeing are the Piramidi di Zone (erosion pyramids), one of the most characteristic and impressive natural phenomena: also known as fairy chimneys, they are majestic spires of rock (the tallest is 30 metres high), creating a forest of pinnacles standing out against the sky, like in a gothic cathedral. To visit Lake Iseo is to live a fairy tale.
With its 156 kilometres of shores, Lake Garda is an ideal spot for all kinds of holidays, thanks to the variety of landscapes, vegetation, culture and traditions you can find here. That’s why millions of people come to this area every year.
The northern part of the lake is just perfect for mountain enthusiasts: it is enclosed by sheer cliffs, where alpine flora reigns supreme. Those who prefer the Mediterranean environment will enjoy the southern area: here the lake stretches out in a round blue basin, surrounded by rolling hills where olive trees, vines, oleanders and agaves grow. The lake offers many opportunities to enjoy various activities: lovers of windsurfing and trekking will find ideal conditions in the north, while the south is perfect for fans of mountain biking and thermal baths.