At the foot of the Little Dolomites, Lake Idro is lapped by wooded slopes. Perfect for sports, it is the scene of an incredible carnival
Via Trento, 16, Idro (BS)
At the foot of the Piccole Dolomiti mountains, and surrounded by their wooded slopes, this is almost a mountain lagoon.
Perfect for sport, it is the location for an incredible carnival It is the coolest of the lakes in Lombardy, but also the least known and quietest. At almost 400 metres above sea level, the small lake today called Lago d'Idro, known as Eridio to the Romans, is surrounded by wooded mountain slopes that reach a height of a thousand metres.
This unspoilt environment makes any activity enjoyable. Relaxing on the pebbly, stony banks of the lake, water sports (sailing and windsurfing), cycling, hiking and climbing, winter skiing on the slopes of Monte Maniva mountain, which also welcomes visitors in the summer with walks and the unforgettable scenery of the Brescia Piccole Dolomiti.
All the towns overlooking the lake are worth a visit, starting with Idro, which is divided into the seven hamlets of Pieve Vecchia, Lemprato, Crone, Vesta, Vantone and Tre Capitelli.
The Rocca d’Anfo fortifications cling to the slope, winding their way up from the lake to the top of Monte Censo mountain. Building had already been started by the noble Visconti family in the fourteenth century, with further work carried out in the fifteenth century by the Republic of Venice, later extended by Napoleon’s engineers and completed by the Italian military engineering corps.
With the annexation of Trentino to Italy in 1919, it was no longer needed as a bastion but continued to be used as a military site until 1975. Today, guided visits lasting four hours can be made to its barracks, armoury, and military strongholds—all connected by walkways, stairs and underground paths. Educational visits for children are also organised, made more fun with a treasure hunt.
Classified as one of the most important ethnological discoveries in the past 200 years, Bagolino carnival was discovered in 1972 by researchers of popular customs. Celebrated since the sixteenth century, it comprised two separate events: the Balarì and the Maschèr. The dancers and musicians (Balarì) perform on the Monday and Tuesday before the end of the party, through the town’s streets, in costume with masks and elaborately decorated hats.
Whereas the Maschèr make their appearance earlier, immediately after Epiphany, their faces covered, and their walk, voice and behaviour also disguised.
Wrought iron, slate, stairways
Nestling among the mountains above the lake, Bagolino is a medieval village, its closely set houses decorated with details such as wrought iron railings, and architectural elements like porticoes, balconies and roofs in terracotta or slate. Narrow cobbled streets alternate with flights of steps.
The seventeenth-century church of San Giorgio stands in the middle of the village. Its vault was frescoed by Tommaso Sandrini, who created an optical illusion that appears to double the height of the nave. The organ was built by the Serassi brothers, a famous dynasty of master organ makers from Como.
Antique frescoes, vintage frescoes
On the banks of the lake, on the spot where the Chiese River leaves to flow down the valley, the church of Santa Maria ad Undas in Idro has a Romanesque apse, subsequently absorbed into the fourteenth-century architecture that still remains today. Over the high altar there is a shrine, decorated with frescos that depict popular saints.
Whereas the frescoes that adorn the walls inside the Hotel Milano, directly opposite the church, -are of a totally different nature. In the thirties, Federico Vaglia, a self-taught painter and owner, together with his brothers, of the hotel, painted the rooms on the ground floor and the bedrooms on the upper floors. He drew his inspiration from the futurists, Gustav Klimt and aeropainting.
Unfortunately, in the sixties, short-sighted management decisions cancelled the works in the bedrooms, but the bar, reception and public rooms continue to enjoy the bright colours and many different themes of Vaglia’s art.
5 reasons for
- Bagoss cheese. This typical Bagolino cheese gets its name from the village’s inhabitants. The large rounds are produced in the malghe (typical mountain buildings) and matured for two years. Made from cow's milk, it is a hard cheese “coloured” with saffron.
- Church of Sant’Antonio, Anfo. Of Romanesque origins, recent restoration work has brought to light its Greek-cross plan and the frescos that embellish both the interiors and the outside walls, dating back to the sixteenth century and the school of Verona. The bell tower is believed to be the oldest in the Val Sabbia valley, presumed to have been built in the fourteenth century.
- Cruise on the Eridio. Round trips starting and finishing in Crone for the mini cruises on Lago d’Idro that stop in Vantone, Vesta, Baitoni (mini-foray into the Trentino part of Eridio), Ponte Caffaro and Anfo. Bikes can be taken on board.
- Ferragosto bonfire, Crone park. Music, dancing and local food and drinks on the 15 August, on an evening that ends with large bonfires on the beach.
- Miner’s Day, Anfo. Miner’s Day (Giornata del Minatore) has been organised every end of July in Anfo for over twenty years. In addition to stalls, food and fireworks, it is also an important opportunity for education and celebration of local history, as barite quarrying in Danzo and Anfo was the main source of income for decades.