A Gothic castle tucked away on a dense green island in the heart of an azure blue lake? Sounds like something straight out of a storybook.
But on the breathtaking waters of Lake Iseo in Lombardy, Italy, it's very much a reality.
The largest of four lakes in the region, what sets Lake Iseo apart is its storybook islands and their breathtaking castles.
A prime example is the island of Loreto, which never fails to wow the lake's visitors thanks to its neo-gothic castle, the burst of lush green trees and plants, and remnants of the former monastery that once stood tall here.
Not much is known about Loreto's history although it's believed that the monastery was built here in the 13th century, as well as a small church.
Although frequented by fishermen and a few pilgrims, the island remained abandoned until the 1910s, when a captain named Vincenzo Richieri bought it and built the impressive neo-gothic castle to use as a private house. It also boasts a marina and two small lighthouses.
Meanwhile the island of San Paolo is home to a monastery and heaps of large, dense green trees for postcard-worthy scenery.
Unfortunately both Loreto and San Paolo are privately owned, but the good news is that you can still take boat trips which go past the islands so you can take in the picturesque scenery. (You can also do water sports such as kayaking for an unforgettable way of exploring the lake).
One island you can visit is Monte Isola, which sits in the middle of the lake and offers 17th century churches as well as a medieval castle. It's also here where you'll find some brilliant boutiques and local restaurants serving up that mouthwatering Italian cuisine.
Want to visit?
Booking.com can be a good source for cheap hotels near Lake Iseo , while TripAdvisor has a round-up of the best Lake Iseo hotels whether you're on a budget or looking for somewhere luxurious to stay.
As for getting there, for cheap flights from the UK, your best bet is to head to Milan Bergamo airport which is about an hour and 15 minutes away from Lake Iseo by car.
Ryanair offers direct flights from the UK with fares from €11.22 and you can also find fares from £20 on Skyscanner although not all routes may be direct.
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