Below are some scenes from my day trip to Franciacorta, the sparkling wine-producing region of central Lombardy, followed by an afternoon exploring Lake Iseo. I began the morning at Scuderia Crazy Horse, an equestrian facility in Erbusco, the heart of Franciacorta. I rode a spry colt named Cognac through vineyards and bridal trails. It was quite a thrill, but I’m not going to lie—my bony ass was so sore after all that clippity-clopping.

Afterwards, I drove to Sulzano on the eastern shore of Lake Iseo to catch a ferry to Monte Isola, a verdent mountain of an island that rises from the center of the lake. Sulzano was packed and I couldn’t find a parking spot, so I drove to Sale Marasino, another ferry station a few miles north. Thankfully, there was ample parking. I caught the ferry to Carzano, a tiny fishing village on the northeast corner of Monte Isola.

From Carzano, I hiked around the northern crown of Monte Isola, which had unmitigated views of the lake’s northern reaches, the Orobie Alps, and Isola di Loreto, a tiny island with a neo-Gothic castle. When I reached Siviano, a village on the northwest corner of the island, I stopped for lunch at Ristorante La Torre. I ordered a pizza and devoured the whole thing. After lunch, I hiked up and over the spine of Monte Isola along an old mule track, cutting through the tiny hamlet of Orzano. After several steep switchbacks, the trail led me down to Carzano, where I caught the next ferry back to Sale Marasino.

To round out the day, I drove into Brescia to get a quick taste of the city before heading to dinner at Trattoria La Madia, a true Italian farm-to-table experience. It was dusk by the time I arrived in Brescia, but the city was bustling. There was a huge demonstration in the Piazza Duomo, and two blocks over in the Piazza della Vittoria, an evening farmer’s market and crafts fair were abuzz with activity. A few blocks away, the outdoor cafes lining the Piazza della Loggia were packed to the gills with Brescian youth. Like Bergamo, Brescia is a very tony city with an impeccably restored and beautifully lit medieval core. It even has its own archaeological site, known as the Capitolium, which was constructed by emperor Vespasian in AD 73.

From Brescia, I drove into the mountains north and west of the city to get to Trattoria La Madia, which is perched high on a hill overlooking the Lombardian plains. The restaurant had a ton of local charm, a very extensive menu, and an amiable wait staff. I ordered several regional specialties, including a Brescian version of casoncelli and osso buco served atop a bed of creamy polenta. It was all delectable.

Last visited in October, 2019

#Italy

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