Many routes not to be missed, to discover the most beautiful corners of Franciacorta, Sebino and Valle Camonica.
The first unforgettable path is that which, delving down into history, leads to the discovery of the flavour of the aqua-vitae; an experiential itinerary can be booked to see the alembics and access the grappa tasting room, where tasting and sensorial analysis courses can also be organised. Tasted products can be purchased in the company outlet.
Apart from the distillery, other not-to-be-missed itineraries, always with guided visits, are those which enable visitors to discover the most beautiful corners of Franciacorta, of Sebino and the Valle Camonica. Places full of spirituality like the Olivetana Abbey of Rodengo Saiano and the San Siro Church at Cemmo, as well as the cluniac monasteries of San Pietro in Lamosa at Provaglio d’Iseo and San Salvatore at Capo di Ponte; fortified places, full of mystery, like the Castle of Bornato, the Oldofredi Castle at Iseo and the Medieval Castle of Breno, or where nature reigns supreme, such as the Torbiere del Sebino Nature Reserve, Monte Isola, the Park of the Pyramids at Zone and the Rock Paintings National Park of Capo di Ponte. Old-town centres, gems of history and culture, such as Pisogne and Iseo.
Finally, modern facilities such as the Franciacorta Outlet Village and the Golf Club Franciacorta complete the series of attractions which this land of aqua-vitae has to offer.
The Olivetana abbey of San Nicola at Rodengo Saiano is one of the most imposing religious complexes of northern Italy, founded by the cluniac monks before 1090.
Recent archaeological excavations have unearthed traces of a Roman wall and the remains of a Lombard hut, opposite the abbey courtyard which, after recently being restored, is still rich in spirituality.
Another gem, set amid the hills and vineyards, is Palazzo Torri at Nigoline di Corte Franca, a majestic fortified stately villa dating back to the 17th century. A meeting place until the end of the 19th century for a group of writers and artists, and still today a centre of cultural activities. Also worth a visit is the Oldofredi Castle of Iseo, one of the best preserved examples of late-medieval military architecture in the province of Brescia.
Il Treno dei Sapori (the Train of Flavors) is a sensory experience that allows you to discover Lake Iseo and Franciacorta by combining the charm of a journey on a historic train with the tasting of the typical flavors of the area.
Accompanied by professional guides, the visitor discovers the most important places in the area: the lakeside town of Iseo, the village of Pisogne with the Church of the Madonna della Neve and other interesting destinations that vary according to the chosen itinerary.
On the carriages with the characteristic orange livery, travelers can taste typical cheeses, cold cuts, traditional dishes, all accompanied by a taste of the fine Franciacorta wines and concluded with a tasting of local grappas.
Shopping fans should not miss out on a visit to the Franciacorta Outlet Village at Rodengo Saiano [www.franciacortagolfclub.com], which counts 160 different stores.
For golfers, the Franciacorta Golf Club, on the moraine hills south of Lake d’Iseo, is a prestigious golf facility, with 3 x 9-hole courses called Brut, Satèn and Rosé which pass through woods and lakes, against the spectacular backdrop of the Franciacorta vineyards.
Also called Monte Isola, this is Europe’s largest lake island.
It can be reached by circumnavigating San Paolo, where an old convent stands, of great interest, including because of its very special position on a rock once considered deserted and abandoned. Also worth visiting is the small harbour of Peschiera Maraglio, with a tour of the local boatyard, where traditional wooden boats are built.
The Rock Art National Park of Capo di Ponte is located in the heart of the Valle Camonica.
It is a Unesco World Heritage Site, a prehistoric sanctuary with hundreds of rocks painted by “initiated artists/priests”.
The Church of San Siro is another not-to-be missed destination; built on a narrow ledge high up over the river Oglio, it dominates the Valley. This is the oldest church of the Valcamonica, expression of the Lombardy Romanesque style dating back to the 12th century.
Small gems of medieval origin.
With its medieval origin, the town centre of Iseo still preserves many of its original historical buildings, while the lake front was restructured in the 19th century. In the main square stands the monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi, the only existing statue of the Hero that represents him without his horse.
Guided tours of Iseo are available with disembarkation at Pisogne, to discover the places where Girolamo Romanino, one of the most famous 16th-century artists, spent long periods of his life and where he left fundamental traces of his artistic career.
Located in Franciacorta, to the south of Lake d’Iseo, the Sebino Peat-Bog Nature Reserve is one of the province of Brescia’s major wetlands.
It can be visited in the company of an expert guide. Exploring this splendid natural oasis means discovering places where many species of animals reproduce and delicate and rare plants thrive. For many years, this area yielded the peat used by the poorer people as fuel.
San Pietro in Lamosa is a magical place full of mystery.
The monastery here, which dates back to 1083, can also be visited with a guide. It stands on a hillock along the old road to Iseo. Entrusted to the Cluny monks, in the middle-ages it became of major importance for the economy of the area, thanks to its huge estates. It then passed into the hands of the convent of San Salvatore of Brescia and, recently, of the Parish of Provaglio and the Municipality of Iseo. It still maintains all the appeal of its Romanesque architecture and boasts major remains of late-medieval and Renaissance frescos.