A visual guide to Montecampione

Montecampione

Montecampione
Welcome to the beautiful Alpine resort of Montecampione, one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Situated in the heart of the Lombardy region, with easy links to Bergamo, Brescia and Milan, this stunning resort has been a popular destination with Italians for years. It covers 35km of breathtaking, snow filled, mountainscape and boasts 20 ski runs over 3 stations and incorporates modern technology to maintain optimal ski conditions. With a mix of 4 blue (easy), 12 red (intermediate) and 4 black (expert) runs there is something for every level of skier and plenty of opportunity to advance your skills. There are 14 ski lifts and a daily shuttle bus to effortlessly transport you to the slopes of your choice.

Excellent provision is made for first time and inexperienced visitors. Ski and board hire is available on site and there are ski schools offering one to one and group lessons from friendly English speaking instructors. Guided off piste skiing and boarding is also available. The resort also offers the frenetic thrills of snowmobiles or for a change of pace why not try one of the many guided snow shoe excursions. Particularly popular is the night time trip by moon or torchlight to an Alpine mountain lodge for dinner and drinks. It’s the ideal way to experience the tranquillity of the slopes in the stillness of the night.

When you are finished with all of the outdoor activities Montecampione has to offer, you should still be able to find time to relax in the pool and sauna or enjoy some après at one of the many bars and restaurants on the site. There is also a cinema and a disco.
One of the many benefits of a ski holiday at Montecampione is the resorts proximity to some beautiful towns and amazing sights. The surrounding area has something for everybody. Whether you are a hardened adrenaline junkie, or just enjoying a family holiday, there is lots to see and do.

Lake Iseo
Lake Iseo is the seventh largest lake in Italy and much smaller than the more famous neighbouring lakes. Carved out of the Alps hundreds of thousands of years ago by glacial movement and fed by the Oglio River, Lake Iseo remains one of Italy’s “hidden gems”. This sense of quiet seclusion only adds to its rugged charm and it has been a popular destination for visiting Italians for years. Despite not being a hotspot for tourists, there is still a surprising amount to see and do around the Lake. The vibrant fishing town of Pisogne on the north eastern tip of the lake is only 18km away from Montecampione and provides the ideal start to your exploration of the area.

Regular ferries crisscross the Lake and many stop at one of the undisputed highlights of the area, the island of Monte Isola. It is one of Europe’s largest inland islands and is home to many waterside bars and restaurants, the perfect place to watch over the water and enjoy some of the fine local cuisine. Freshly caught fish from the Lake is of course a specialty. For the more adventurous traveller, a jaunt to the top of the Islands hill will reveal the ancient chapel of the Madonna Della Ceriola and amazing views across the lake from a vantage point 1000 feet above its surface.

Monte Isola is part of the “Italy’s most beautiful villages” scheme and two other villages dotted around the Lake have also been accepted into the scheme. Both Bienno and Lovere are well worth a visit. Bienno has long been associated with iron working and there is archaeological evidence of forges and smithies dating back to the 1st century AD. Guided tours are available if you want to know more about the fascinating history of the village. Lovere is one of the largest villages on the lake and has benefitted from some loving restoration which has preserved many of its beautiful churches and artworks which are open to the public. There is also a covered ice skating rink surrounded by bars restaurants and pizzerias in the port area of the village. Other villages to explore include Sarnico and Morone which is famous for its stone pyramids.

There is a strong culture of action sports around the lake and visitors can participate in canoeing, wind surfing, kite surfing, paragliding and sailing in or around the deep blue water. The surrounding terrain is also perfect for Trekking, hiking and mountain biking. There are some great mountain biking routes, but Lake Iseo offers great opportunities for cyclists of all types. Bikes are recommended to anyone who wants to explore the lake and its environs. Most of the ferries will carry bikes for a small extra charge.

In between the south eastern tip of Lake Iseo and Brescia lies the wine growing region of Franciacorta. The vine yards here are legendary and they produce many quality (DOC) white, rose and dry red wines. But what this beautiful corner of Italy is famous for is its top quality (DOCG) sparkling wine which uses the “champagne method” to make it bubbly. Tours of the vineyards and wine tasting are available all year round, but you may need to get organized and make an appointment in advance. There is so much to do in Franciacorta that it is an ideal destination for a day trip. The vineyards themselves provide stunning scenery that is a perfect backdrop to some fine examples of villas and castles from the Renaissance period when many wealthy land owners built property in the region. The Torbiere del Sebino nature reserve is the perfect destination for bird watchers and plant lovers, with the spring time blooming of the water lilies being especially popular with visitors.

The Franciacorta Golf Club is the closest 18 hole course to Montecampione and is something of a favourite with Italian pros. The course also has tennis courts and a wellness centre along with bars and restaurants making it a destination in itself. Erbusco is home to one of Italy’s finest restaurants, Gualtiero Marchesi, named after its award winning head chef. He was the first Italian chef to be awarded 3 Michelin stars, which he notoriously returned in 2008 after challenging the French bias of the guide.

Franciacorta Outlet Village near Rodengo Saiano is a fashion shopping experience. 160 boutiques offer Italian (especially Milanese) and international brands at discount prices. A firm favourite with locals and tourists alike, the Outlet Village is also home to restaurants, bars and children’s play areas providing fun for all the family.

Valle Camonica
Italy’s second longest valley has achieved worldwide acclaim for its high concentration of prehistoric drawings, paintings and engravings. There are in the region of 300,000 individual artworks in the valley, with the oldest dating back to 8000BC and the practice continuing through to the Middle Ages. The whole area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are several national parks devoted to showcasing and protecting the art. The largest is the Parco Nazionale delle Incisioni Rupestridi Naquane near Capo di Ponte and it provides the perfect introduction to anyone who wants to learn more about these fascinating glimpses of mankind’s pre-history. Further study is available at the Archeopark near Boario Terme, where prehistoric settlements have been reconstructed to create an interactive, open air museum. A unique day out for the whole family, encompassing a wide range of fun activities.

The valley is also famous for its thermal springs and Boario Terme is a popular spa town that contains four distinct and unique springs and several hotels and resorts offering a wide range of health promoting treatments, as well as lots of pampering! It’s the perfect place to recover from the exertions of an adrenaline fuelled skiing holiday and it’s only 21km from Montecampione. It is also a good base to explore some of the breathtaking sites in the Valley. A restored and preserved Roman Amphitheatre is the stunning centrepiece of the Cividate Camuno Archaeological Park and history fans will have a splendid time trekking through the hilltop ruins at Breno or the medieval village of Bienno.

Lots of other day trips and activities are available including go karting, bowling, rock/ice climbing, trekking, horse riding and excellent shopping.

Bergamo and Brescia
The two closest cities to Montecampione are busy, modern and thriving. Despite this they retain a rich cultural heritage and provide visitors with excellent insight into the often turbulent history of the region. Brescia (Brexia) was Gaulish settlement which became part of Rome in 41BC and it remains one of Italy’s foremost repositories of Roman and medieval artefacts and monuments. The monastery of San Salvatore is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which houses the city museum, which includes an extraordinary Roman section. Piazza del Foro is home to several Roman ruins, including the Tempio Capitolino, and a theatre. The city also boasts two fine cathedrals in Piazza Paolo VI as well as several notable churches and museums. Overlooking the city, on the Colle Cidneo is the Castello that was built in the 13th century to defend the city.

Bergamo’s history is dominated by Venetian influence. It is Ventetian walls, built in the 17th century that divides the two centres of the city. The Città Alta is Bergamo’s upper town and it is still ringed with those walls, which enclose a remarkable array of piazzas, palazzos a citadel and other historic monuments. Art lovers will be overjoyed at the city’s collection of Italian old masters, with works by Raphael, Botticelli, Mantegne and Titian on display. More modern work is also on display including donated works from Kandinsky.

Food
Lombardy has the highest concentration of Michelin starred restaurants in Italy. Only six of them have 3 stars and one of them is Da Vittorio (http://www.davittorio.com/Ristorante_eng), 8km East of Bergamo in Brusaporto. There are lots more starred restaurants to try in and around Brescia and Bergamo. Don’t worry if fine dining is not what you want from your restaurant experience. The overall quality of food in this region is high and the locals take pride in being able to offer top notch fare in cafes and trattorias. The famed food of Lombardy includes the gloriously creamy Taleggio and the blue/green veined Gorgonzola cheeses. Bresola and Panettone also originated here and remain popular locally as well as being exported around the world. Pasta is of course prominent in local restaurants, with a local speciality being Casoncelli, a large homemade ravioli, with a variety of fillings. Polenta accompanies many of the dishes served as a main course and a trip to Lake Iseo would not be complete without enjoying Tinca al Forno which is baked lake Tench (usually freshly caught) with polenta. The village of Clusane is the place to go for many fine examples of this dish. Of course all of this fine food is best enjoyed when accompanied by one of the regions excellent wines.

Slopes

Church

Eating in Iseo

Iseo

Sunset over Iseo