ITALY, Sep. 2008
ISEO

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

In September we drove down to Italy and visited some cities in this beautiful country.
After visits to Bologna, Perugia, Siena, Firenze (Florence), Pistoia and Lucca, it was time to go home. But not straightaway, we found time to revisit a place I spent most of my childhood holidays: Iseo, on the Lago d'Iseo.

Click on the thumbnail images to view a larger image

 

 

Iseo


The main square. I remember the markets here on this square my mother dragged us to. IseoOne minute we were playing in the water at the campground and the next we were dragged to this market where we had to try on winter sweaters, because that was the time to buy them cheap..
We quickly made ourselves scarce and tried to catch some fish on the docks. My father volunteered (after he finished haggling with the North African salespeople for souvenirs) to keep an eye on me and my brother, so we found ourselves soon at the dock eating icecream..

 


Iseo

They certainly redecorated it nicely since the 1960s/early 1970s, but I like it less. A little too groomed.
Iseo
These small roads are now off-limits to cars mostly, but I remember how we had to negotiate these streets with a car and in places they even had cars parked!
Iseo Quite a number of lovely streets to wander through.  




 

Iseo The Via Mirolte ends into the main square; in this street there was 'our special pastry shop'...
Our regular visits to the shop of Mrs Consoli, for a cola or a cappuccino, over the years gave us a status where we could take our choice of pastries from the shop window.
Every year the first visit was like coming home.
Iseo
The pastry shop of my past has become a bar.

 

"The history of Iseo undoubtedly dates back to prehistoric times, as is demonstrated by findings coming from lake-dwellings from the Mesolithic era recovered in the peat bogs. The Camuni, Rhaetians and Cenomani used the lake as a centre for exchange and commerce, as well as for fishing.
There is substantial evidence that it was an important commercial centre in the Roman era from 16 BC. One of the most important findings demonstrating this is an artefact representing one of the Labours of Hercules, found inside a temple which was discovered during restoration work on the church of S. Andrea.
The origin of the name Iseo would appear to derive from "in-sebum", and hence "Insevo" and 'Iseo', and thus from the same origin as ‘Sebino’, the other name for Lake Iseo.
It became a parish in the 5th century, under Lombard occupation and came under the control of the Brescian monastery of S.Giulia.
A castle was first built around the year 1000 and there is still a castle here today. Iseo became a strategic and commercial stronghold for the fortified town of Brescia. Barbarossa and his grandson Federico II attempted to destroy it in 1161 and 1288, with the Ghibelline faction from the Valle Camonica. It was then reconstructed thanks to the intervention of Brescia, bringing considerable economic advantages to the local population.
The second ring of historic city walls was built in order to defend the development of artisan activities. In 1252 Brescia forbade the construction of towers in Iseo, a few years later taking control of the port in order to control traffic.
In the meantime the Castle acquired the name of Oldofredi. The inhabitants of Iseo, with the assistance of the Visconti and Scaligeri families, reconstructed first the fortifications and subsequently the whole castle in 1331. When the lands of Iseo were ceded to the Venetian Republic, the Oldofredi family were exiled.
Visconti and Sforza troops passed through the town in the 15th century, while in 1513 it was occupied by Spanish troops. At the same time the growth of trade made Iseo and the surrounding area so important that it was included in the fluvial canalisation projects designed by Leonardo da Vinci, as part of the project which would have joined Bergamo to Brescia.
In 1588 work was begun on reconstructing the port, subsequently renovated in 1701.
In 1784 the wool manufacturers came together in an association, evidence of the importance of this sector for the economy of the town, along with emerging silk industry. Artisan activities were indeed the foundation of the middle classes, who greeted the arrival of the Cisalpine Republic with favour.
When the town was abandoned by the Hapsburgs, the envoy of the new government, Giuseppe Zanardelli, was welcomed to Iseo with waving of the Italian flag. A few years later the inhabitants of Iseo greeted the troops of Giuseppe Garibaldi with similar enthusiasm and today Iseo can boast the first monument dedicated to this Italian hero.
Gabriele Rosa, a scholar and representative of the local republican group, which contributed to the political success of Giuseppe Zanardelli, was a famous citizen of Iseo. From 1870-80 three steam-powered spinning mills were started up and in 1875 the port was extended, becoming a centre for the collection of cereals heading for the Valcamonica.
Tourism was launched in the 1930s with the renovation in 1937 of the lakeside promenade, which today takes the name of Guglielmo Marconi.
[Source: www.cooptur.it ]

 

More nice backstreets in Iseo

More nice backstreets in Iseo

 

Iseo
Iseo
Lago d'Iseo... When we stayed here, some 40 years ago, we stayed at the Camping Cave, further down the lake. From Iseo one can make a boattrip to that island (Monte Isola) in the distance, but we never got round to doing that; as kids we preferred to stay at the campsite as much as possible, spent time in the water.
IseoThe lakeside promenade, which is named after Guglielmo Marconi. It is much nicer than how I remember it, but the view is the same. And you still cannot find a parkingspot.

 

Iseo
Iseo

 

Iseo

 

 

IseoThis church, the Pieve di San Andrea, is the most visited of churches in Iseo.
This imposing structure of the 12th century has a beautiful bell tower in Roman style.
On the right of the entrance is the mausoleum of Giacomo Oldofredi.
The inside has three aisles, chapels on the sides and an altar in marble.
There are several paintings of various periods.
Iseo
A closer look at the church
Iseo
Iseo
The parish church of S. Andrea: "It is believed that the church was founded in the 6th century by Bishop San Vigilio on the site of a Roman temple. It was subsequently reconstructed in the 12th century in Lombard style. Over the centuries the parish church was renovated several times.
At the beginning of the 19th century Rodolfo Vantini renovated the interior in neo-classical style. The church is characterised by an unusual bell tower incorporated into the centre of the façade and which represents the most attractive Romanesque bell tower in the Brescia area.
On the right-hand side of the portal there is a particularly interesting 14th century gothic arch by Giacomo Oldofredi. Inside there are frescoes by Angelo Inganni and Arcangelo Michele dell' Hayez. In the presbytery there are frescoes by Ponziano Loverini and Giuseppe Teosa."
[Source: www.cooptur.it ]
Iseo
Iseo
Iseo

 

Iseo

 

Iseo

 

Iseo

 

Iseo
IseoWe stayed one night in the Hotel Ambra. Not exactly cheap but their breakfast buffet was very good. They also have a small carpark and the room had tv & airconditioning.
A word of advise: stay out of room overlooking Via Duomo! It is a small one-way alley but well travelled and each car will hit a steel roadcover right under your window..

 

Iseo

Our visit was in September and I could notice that staff at restaurants were tired after a busy tourist season. Either that or their attitude has a standard of rudeness. At 2 restaurants (the first one I walked out) I wasn't too pleased with the service.
All in all this visit brought me a bag of mixed emotions but I am glad I did it all the same, even if it was more for the memories than for the present town of Iseo.

 

 

Links:
www.lagoiseo.it/inglese/iseo

 

 

ITALY 2008