Take a restorative break surrounded by enchanting landscapes! Small and big lakes, marvellous ancient villages, gentle hills dotted with vineyards and summits to conquer: the province of Brescia includes some of the most charming natural itineraries in Italy, which are very popular among slow tourism and hiking enthusiasts. Let’s discover them together!
Double UNESCO designation for Camonica Valley and its mountains After the 8 parks declared World Heritage Site no. 94, “Rock Art of Camonica Valley”, in 2018 UNESCO-MAB created the “Valle Camonica – Alto Sebino Biosphere Reserve”, turning over 55% of this region into protected area. The reserve stretches for about 1360 sq km from the Adamello glaciers to Lake Iseo and is crossed length-wise by Oglio River.
This premise already qualifies the excellence of Camonica Valley’s tourist offering, a growing destination among those who want to practice sustainable tourism. There are several not-to-miss slow tourism itineraries. The most popular are the Forest of Quercus and Rocco, the giant Owl in Bienno, Val Sozzine park in Ponte di Legno,and the beautiful natural reserve Valli di S. Antonio in Corteno Golgi.
Experts can challenge themselves along the thrilling Sentiero no. 1 dell’Adamello, a multi-stage, 85-km trail in incredible nature, and Sentiero dei Fiori, an excursion departing from Passo del Tonale. It includes via ferrata portions and follows the trails used during World War I. This trail at an altitude of 3,000 m is a truly fascinating itinerary which alternates unparalleled views of the region and sights of the remains of the Great War like tunnels, bridges, and a partially rebuilt military camp.
When you return to the valley, a small pristine gem awaits: Parco del lago Moro, a lake reserve in the Sorline basin betweeen Angolo Terme and Darfo Boario Terme. The perimeter of this wild-spirited body of water is ideal for a relaxing walk admiring nature. Fun fact: Lake Moro is the most bio-diverse area in Europe.
After careful redevelopment – which is still undergoing – Antica Strada Valeriana and Charlemagne Way have been opened to the public to offer multi-stage itineraries connecting Camonica Valley and Lake Iseo. The first leaves from the Brescia side of the lake and the second from the Bergamo side. Both touch points of interest which carry significant historic, artistic, and cultural importance. Both itineraries have recently been mapped and included in the portal Cammini d’Italia (Italian Trekking):
Franciacorta and Lake Iseo represent an incredible setting for responsible tourism. Here, you will enjoy several outdoor experiences surrounded by nature and beautiful landscapes, which do not compromise local resources.
Near Antica Strada Valeriana in Pilzone d’Iseo there is a Giant Bench, one of the 12 installed along Lake Iseo and Camonica Valley as part of the “Big Bench Community Project” (BBCP) by American designer Chris Bangle. This is a selfie-worthy tourist attraction from where you can enjoy the view from a different perspective. Here is the complete list of the Giant Benches:
Located in a quaint position over the town of Marone, the village of Zone is a peaceful oasis. Other than being the preferred starting point for excursions to Mount Guglielmo and Corna Trentapassi, the town also boasts the famous Zone Pyramids Regional Reserve, unusual geological formations created by an almost unique erosion phenomenon. Access to the park is free: a well-marked circular path leads to this natural attraction.
Another Zone attraction is Gnome Forest, where over 40 sculptures of animals and elves created by a local artist line the trail and create a fairy-tale atmosphere. Picnic tables are available for breaks with the family.
Let’s move to Lake Iseo, where Torbiere del Sebino Peat Bog Reserve represents an exceptional tourism experience. This protected area hosts rare plant and animal species. With its evocative corners and several observation points, the nature reserve is also the ideal backdrop for birdwatchers.
Famous for its wine and a growing slow tourism destination, Franciacorta has several winding trails surrounded by vineyards, old towns, renowned wineries, and charming castles. From Mount Orfano to Borgonato, from Gaina stream to Monticelli Brusati and Mount Alto, click here to find details and maps.
With its Mediterranean climate and breathtaking views, Lake Garda never stops bewitching you.
One essential stop for slow tourists is Valle delle Cartiere (Paper Mill Valley) in Toscolano. It is a remarkably interesting area in terms of landscape, history, and charm. Between the remains of the old paper mills and incredible gorges, the itinerary is suitable for family walks surrounded by the silence of nature. The area is part of Parco Alto Garda Bresciano, a park in upper Lake Garda created in 1989 stretching from the lake to the summit of Mount Palù at 2,000 m above sea level. Another interesting excursion departing from Toscolano leads to Mount Pizzocolo (1,582 m above sea level), in an elevated position and with a 360° view of Lake Garda.
Continuing inland, we arrive at magnificent Valvestino. The inlets of the namesake lake are as charming as the most beautiful Norwegian fjords. If you want an unforgettable experience immersed in nature and traditions, Cima Rest barns are the place for you: old mountain farmer houses turned into accommodation facilities which still preserve their authenticity and charm. You can book a stay in one of the barns and plan daily hiking excursions choosing from a variety of trails.
Lake Idro, Trompia Valley, and Sabbia Valley also offer several slow tourism opportunities ranging from trekking and hiking to relaxation surrounded by nature.
Those who love trekking at high altitude can head to Maniva, one of Brescia’s favourite mountains, to spend a day in the open air both in the summer and the winter. Another opportunity to relax and be in touch with nature is fishing, a popular activity in the setting of the wonderful landscapes of Mount Maniva and Lake Idro.
Stroll in tranquil old towns admiring charming corner and timeless alleys, a legacy from the past which is now being rediscovered and extensively promoted. Slow tourism touches the marvellous historical towns of which our province is so rich, starting from our three Most Beautiful Small Towns in Italy:
This isn’t all! There are several other visit-worthy small towns: Tignale with Montecastello Hermitage, the old centres of Sirmione and Desenzano, small hamlets in Franciacorta, and the gems of Brescia’s plain such as Padernello and its namesake castle.