Gastronomy
  • PDF
  • Print
  • E-mail
The area around Lake Iseo is characterized by varied natural landscapes, with lake, hill and mountain environments and their own microclimatic zones, each one characterized by traditional activities that have been producing typical products for a long time.

For this reason Lake Iseo can boast some typical products which are important in modern gastronomy, such as fish products from the lake, olive oil from the olive-trees on the hills; cheese from mountain villages, rediscovered and recently promoted thanks to the commitment of the Mountain Community, and wines from the nearby Franciacorta area.
Some of these food products and, produced with traditional, handmade techniques, are protected by the Lombardy Region’s legislation through production regulations, preservation and seasoning, to ensure the consumer a healthy and safe product.


FISH
At restaurants you can taste various freshwater fish dishes, usually cooked according to the chefs’ fantasy and creativity. But tradition has consecrated two special dishes which you must taste if you are a real gourmet: dried sardines kept in olive oil and salt, a typical dish from Montisola, sometimes served as a starter and stuffed baked tench with polenta, a speciality from Clusane to which the “Week of the Tench” event in July is dedicated. During this week, restaurants offer tourists these special dishes at a reasonable price. However, you can order tench throughout the year.

COLD MEATS
In the area of Lake Iseo the production of cold meats is a bit limited but very particular, with some specialities such as sheep, goose, donkey ham and salami, as well as the traditional pork salami. You can find all these products at holiday farms or at local market stands.

Montisola Salami
An exclusive salami made from pork and spices which is only produced on Montisola. It has an exclusive and rich taste, slightly smoky. The meat is coarsely chopped up by hand and the salami is cured and dried in small cellars in the village of Cure, close to the top of the island.



 

CHEESE
Silter
This is a typical mountain semi-cooked cheese, produced in the lower Valcamonica (Camonica Valley) and on the hills to the east of the lake.
It’s produced with fresh milk, from brown alpine cows, which are fed on hay in cowsheds in winter whereas in summer they graze on mountain pastures feeding on grass that is rich in flower essences.
It’s ready to be eaten after only 100 days but it is also excellent after maturing for one, two or even three years, when it becomes very hard.
Casolet
Another typical mountain cheese which is cooked, has a triangular base and a whitish-yellow rind. It should be eaten after it has been matured for about a month.
Formaggella
A cooked cheese, with a cylindrical shape and a whitish-yellow rind, obtained by processing whole milk.
It can be eaten after less than a month’s maturing.
Stracchino “Bronzone”
A typical soft cheese whose origins go back to the 10th century. Produced on the Colli di San Fermo, just above Sarnico and near Vigolo, between Mount Bronzone (after which it is named) and Lake Iseo.
It’s produced exclusively using whole cow’s milk and is polygonal with a square base.
Its taste is sweet, creamy and slightly sour with a strong milk and cream flavour.

 

OLIVE OIL
"Olio extravergine di oliva Laghi Lombardi - sottodenominazione Sebino" is a DOP (protected origin denomination) olive oil, produced in the area around Iseo, Sulzano, Sale Marasino, Montisola and Marone using different kinds of plants (Frantoio, Leccino and Pendolino varieties). It is a fruity olive oil and very delicate thanks to its low level of acidity, with good organoleptic features.

HONEY AND JAMS
Honey produced in the area round the lake (woods, acacia, flower or chestnut honey) is characterized by its taste and quality. The same can be said of jams: fruits of the forest, blackberry, raspberry, black or redcurrant and chestnut ones are really delicious.
Both honey and jams are available to taste at holiday farms or at local market stands.


WINES
The nearby Franciacorta area is definitely worth visiting for its wines, named after the area in which they are produced.
For a long time grapevines have been prospering in this area, as confirmed by the discovery of grape pips from the prehistoric age. Morainic hills, created thousands of years ago by glacial movement, produce a light, fully-drained soil which is perfect for the balanced growth of grapevines.

The lake-water, together with airstreams coming from Valcamonica, are important in that they produce a particularly temperate climate.
Wine has been renowned since ancient times, as many quotations and ancient treatises confirm, but the major work is the 'Libellus de Vino Mordaci', written in 1570 by Girolamo Conforti; it defined the present-day Franciacorta area as excellent and "really mordant."

However it was in the sixties that a young local oenologist innovated traditional methods and started to produce "classic method sparkling wine" with a second fermentation in the bottle.
In 1967 a law authorized the production of Franciacorta DOC, Controlled Origin Denomination.
In 1995 Franciacorta got the DOCG, Controlled Origin and Guaranteed Denomination, becoming the first Italian brut wine fermented in the bottle to get this certification.

Then Terre di Franciacorta DOC (nowadays Curtefranca) came into being, to protect the still wines, both white and red . Vineyards in Franciacorta cover an area amounting to about 2,500 ha and producing about 10 million bottles.
Wineries are open by appointment for wine-tasting visits.