45 minutes outside of Milan Bergamo airport there’s a little town called Lovere. It’s one of the many towns and villages around Lake Iseo. The lake is the 4th largest in Lombary, and is almost equally divided between the provinces of Bergamo and Brescia. The first thing that got my attention amidst the preliminary-googling-phase was the name. Lovere -sounds kind of enchanting doesn’t it? A couple of clicks later my mind was made up. (All you need to know about travelling in Lovere)
Lake Iseo is a smaller scale, less commercial version of Garda. It’s got similar breath-taking views but less traffic. More locals, less celebrity mansions. During our stay, many locals seemed stunned at the fact that two young-adults were staying there, for a whole week. I guess it’s because of the lack of nightlife aspect. We soon found out that Lovere is frequented by retired holidaymakers, the kind that are after a relaxing, vacation. Stereotypes aside, Lovere is a perfect base to travel around the surrounding area. You know, the kind of trip millennials are all about. Renting a car is relatively easy and surprisingly inexpensive. On the outskirts of the town, there’s a place called Endine, where you can find Sebino Auto, a family run company. Don’t worry about managing to make a deal in Italian, the owner’s daughter works the front desk and she is a fluent English speaker, American accent and all. We rented out a brand new Twingo, which was a delight to drive and surprisingly inexpensive, at around 30 euro a day including all taxes and insurance.
The little town, it turns out, is just as charming as its name suggests. There’s no wonder as to why it’s a part of The most beautiful villages in Italy, an association that notes small Italian towns of strong artistic and historical interest. Waking up to the silence, clean air and the stunning backdrop of the mountains is uplifting.
After a week of meandering through the narrow alleys of the old town, decorated with the pastel coloured houses and overhanging wooden roofs, I was in love with Lovere. It’s not just the pretty sights, but the lifestyle and energy flowing through the lake-side town. The town in Lovere is a hive of activity. The narrow medevial roads are bustling come 7am. Within a day, we were humming around the town first thing in the morning just like the locals.
Iride Paris, a charming patisserie run by a passionate young lady (who also welcomes customers, bakes and serves), was always the first thing on the agenda, and more than one stop a day was usually made. The place is on the main road facing the lake and it’s the real thing – genuine products made with fresh ingredients, friendly workers who are happy to be there, and local prices. Foccacias, pizzas, baked dishes, cannoli, sweet loaf of bread and almond bakes in masses – the smell alone will have you coming back for more. Be sure to avoid the tourist traps like Cafe Wender and its neatly packaged mass produced crafts closer to the old town. Within the old town there are a number of small patisseries with small nibbles and an endless variety of bread products which will surely sate you.
Next, we’d walk towards the old town, up the cobbled street facing the fountain in the centre. On the left there’s a small, yet resourceful, green grocers, which is also run by a vibrant young woman. The produce is fresh, and plentiful. The owner will explain where each product came from and patiently describe the difference between the three shades of green grapes, and even offer a sample to help you decide (moscato!). To save you the embarrassment, wait to be served. Don’t just grab a bag and help yourself and walk to the till to have your items weighed out and pay- that’s not how things work here. Unless of course, you want a shop full of locals to stop, stare, and giggle while exclaiming to one another how cute and naive tourists are, and how things must be done differently wherever we’re from. A guessing game ensued. Yes, I understand Italian- good thing they thought our naivety was adorable rather than arrogant. Last thing on the agenda? Find a fresh water fountain and fill up the bottles of aqua panna we bought for €1.50, a six pack.
While making your way through the center of the old town, you’ll also notice the medieval towers from the 12th and 13th centuries, which are quite remarkable. The towers are called the Pumpkin Tower (Torre detta ‘la Zucca’), the Alghisi Tower (Torre degli Alghisi) and the Civic Tower (Torre Civica). Similar towers can be found in all of the villages surrounding Lake Iseo.
After gathering all the essentials, we head to our Twingo, choose one of the leaflets given to us by helpful ladies at the tourist office, open google maps and drive off.