Lake Idro in Italy: 8 Must-Do Experiences

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When I talk about Lake Idro it almost seems as if no one knows it. True, the proximity of the Lake Garda and Lake Iseo does not help to make it known to the masses.

Maybe that is good, maybe not. Certainly the activities of Lake Idro would benefit from a little more tourism. As a Brescian, I can say that, for me, less tourism also means more livability, and maybe Lake Idro would not be that unknown pearl with a rough soul whose somber green waters I always take great pleasure in seeing again.

You might be interested in: 15 Best Things to do on Lake Iseo

What to do and see on Lake Idro?

Although this small lake is little known, it presents so many experiences to do. In this case, there are not so many things to see; it is more the things to do that characterize Lake Idro. You have to experience it, appreciate it, and do sports activities. Yes, precisely sporting activity, since many of the suggestions you will find in this article are related precisely to active tourism.

Where is Lake Idro located?

This beautiful lake of glacial origin with steep shores is located in the middle of Valle Sabbia in the province of Brescia. It is almost entirely part of the territory of Brescia, except for a small dot to the northeast of Trentino territory.

Getting to Idro is no problem. Accessibility to the rest of Lake Idro after its main town is not so easy. Only one shore (the west shore) has a whole section of passable road, while the east shore is particularly steep and the road ends in the village of Vesta.

Where to stay

If you want to appreciate the lake and enjoy the lake view when you wake up in the morning, well there is no better way than sleeping on its shores. I propose two solutions:

North Lake -> CLICK HERE for available hotels near Ponte Caffaro

Center/South of the Lake -> CLICK HERE for available hotels near Idro

1 – The Rocca d’Anfo: the ruined fortress

This very large military outpost stands on the rocky outcrops in the middle of the lake near Anfo. From the road you can hardly see its features, so steep is the wall.

Venetians, Frenchmen in the time of Napoleon, we Italians during the two wars and later almost to the present day, as it was used by the Italian army until the beginning of this century, there have been many who have used this fortress. Rocca D’Anfo is undoubtedly the main thing to see on Lake Idro.

lago di idro cosa vedere
panorama of Lake Idro

Built by the Republic of Venice

It dates back to the 15th century, It was erected by the Republic of Venice and initially had no great military features. It was used for commercial reasons: duties on goods and passage and commercial control of the area, thwarting the various moves of smugglers. Not coincidentally, on the other side of Lake Idro there is a path called precisely the “Sentiero dei Contrabbandieri” used by smugglers to succeed in overtaking the various controls of the Venetians.

The period of Napoleon

It later “changed hands” and was used by Napoleon, who, thanks to his military engineers, expanded it and gave it a typically offensive connotation. It was built even higher than the Venetian positions and covered a large part of the mountain. The Rocca d’Anfo could accommodate even more than 1,000 soldiers, and from the top of the mountain it was able to have cannon ranges consonant with the defense of the area.

Actually, the Rocca d’Anfo, as per Napoleon’s war strategy, was not totally offensive. Or rather, it was meant to protect the area, but the main objective was to resist. In fact, it was organized in such a way as to have food and ammunition for at least 25 days, enough time for the French army present on the plain to have succeeded in reaching the area and eliminating the danger. The Rocca is thus the largest Napoleonic fortress in Italy.

rocca d'anfo da vedere sul lago di idro
View of the Rocca d’Anfo from below

The Italian Period

Toward the end of the 19th century, the Rocca passed to the Italians, who incorporated some improvements such as a cobblestone road between the Venetian and Napoleonic parts. Changes that made, in some ways, the fortress weaker, but at the same time more flexible and faster with supplies.

The fortress has only recently been open to the public as it remained a military garrison of the Italian state until 1975. The decay of the structure, accomplice also to some landslides, is evident, but the visit is of definite interest.

Visits to the Rocca d’Anfo on Lake Idro

Visit reservations: just go to the -> Rocca D’anfo Site and choose which route to take.

Caution: these are relatively challenging routes as they involve uphill sections, steps, wet pavements. I recommend that you use suitable shoes, equip yourself with water (there are no refreshment points along the route or even toilets), and finally, if the day is unpromising, a k-way.

2 – Try kitesurfing on the upper Lake Idro

Okay, after the cultural part we come to the sports part. The northern part of Lake Idro, on its shores presents a beautiful green plain. Here stands a beautiful kitesurfing center and school that I got to know during a tourism promotion project.

piana a norde del lago di idro cosa vedere
The plain north of Lake Idro

I was fascinated by the setting in which it is possible to learn to kitesurf. The northern area of Lake Idro, accomplice to the fact that it is not so easy to reach, is little known. In Ponte Caffaro I recommend that you go and try kitesurfing. The special wind conditions of this “spot” (as they are called), make this place incredibly fascinating. Happy kiting.

lago di idro cosa vedere
Kite on the northern tip of Lake Idro. Credits: Maselli Kite

3 – Discovering Mount Maniva

As a good Brescian, I can say that Maniva is a certainty. Anyone who has lived in the northern part of the city of Brescia (you might be interested Things to do in Brescia) knows Maniva. It is basically the first place you can go skiing in winter, only an hour’s drive from the city.

Many people have second homes in the Trompia Valley, and Mount Maniva is the northern end of the valley. Having spent all of August my entire childhood and most of my adolescence in the village of San Colombano at my grandparents’ house, I know it even better.

Because there i’m talking about the Valle Trompia when Lake Idro is in the Valle Sabbia? Because the Maniva Pass connects precisely these two valleys, and during the summer it is also possible to climb to the mountain from the Bagolino side. So if you are visiting Lake Idro in the summer and want to do a short trek through the mountains, consider Maniva.

lago di idro cosa vedere
The small lakes of Ravenola, not far from Mount Maniva

4 – Getting as far as Bagolino for bagoss and carnival

It is amazing how such a remote village has two of the best experiences to have in the area. In this case, one is among the best things to do on Lake Idro, the other among the things to do-I’m talking about the Bagolino Carnival and Bagòss, respectively.

The Bagolino Carnival is so special that I can’t help but link you to an in-depth look that, if you are a carnival lover, you can’t miss -> The Carnival of Bagolino.

Bagòss is an extra hard cheese, cooked and to which saffron is added. It is a slow food presidium. You can find bagòss in many supermarkets in Brescia, but you can taste the real bagòss cheese only in Bagolino.

5 – Take a horseback ride to see Lake Idro from above

Let’s change sides of the lake. In fact, let’s move a little bit away from Lake Idro so you can see it from above. In the Capovalle (Bs) area, I suggest you contact the Ipposvago Equestrian Center and request a horseback ride to the viewpoint to see Lake Idro from above. It will be a fantastic experience. Kids, teens, but also adults…everyone always likes the horseback ride, it’s a guarantee.

6 – Forge Park, Casto’s ferratas

In the mood for trekking? Of nature? Or physical activity in a special setting? The choice falls on the Parco delle Fucine and Casto’s vie ferrate. I tried via ferratas a few years ago and immediately fell in love with them.

In total safety you can experience a day in the middle of nature having fun with zipper lines, more or less challenging via ferratas and a pond for the little ones. The park is run by an association of volunteers. Guys very active and full of initiative.

If you don’t want anything too challenging, I recommend taking a ride on the horizontal via ferrata the “stretta luina” following the water course. Alternatively, zipper lines are also suitable for those who prefer a “quiet” day. Safety equipment for the ferratas can be requested directly at the Corna Zana information point, while, of course, your clothing should be appropriate for such an activity.

Casto is not that close to Idro, but I assure you that it is one of the things you absolutely must do if you are visiting Lake Idro.

fucine di casto
Inside nature in Casto

7 – Getting as far as Lake Valvestino

Among the things to see on Lake Idro…there is another lake, Lake Valvestino. Actually even this place that I recommend is not so close to the shores of the main lake. You have to continue past Capovalle, and after a few kilometers you will find yourself in a valley with a stream on your right. Gradually, this watercourse will become more and more impressive and will be none other than Lake Valvestino.

This is an artificial lake formed by the construction of the Ponte Cola dam on the Toscolano stream. However, the turquoise water hides a small pearl of history: the submerged remains of an old Austro-Hungarian customs house.

8 – Doing the ferrata sasse

I told you at the beginning of the article that the things to see on Lake Idro were mostly things to do. This time the ferrata is also partly on the small patch of Trentino territory. A trail at the water ‘s edge that connects Vesta to the boat dock in Baitoni.

A total of 4700 meters, of which 2400 are ferrata. The ferrata route was estimated at 2 hours and 40 minutes. I have never done it as I learned of its existence recently. However, I hope to do it as soon as possible.


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