The more widely-known Lakes Como, Maggiore, Garda and Orta attract the thousands of tourists. But growing numbers of people buying property in Italy's Lakes are ignoring the herd in favour of the undisturbed shores of Lake Iseo nearby, almost unknown outside Italy but one that is as equally attractive as the area's more popular expanses of water.

Lake Iseo has just as attractive villas and apartments, notably those boasting stunning views facing the serene stretch of water. But they are much cheaper, with prices barely half of what one would pay in Lake Garda, just over 30km away. Typically, a two-bedroom property looking over the lake can be yours for less than 90,000 Pounds Sterling, while a spacious three-bedroom villa with easy access to the shores can be snapped up for around twice that.

On top of that, four international airports lie within a 90km radius – Malpensa and Linate in Milan, Gabriele D'Annunzio in Brescia and Orio Al Serio in Bergamo. One indicator to the burgeoning attraction of this secret treasure is in the increasing number of cars bearing Dutch, Belgian, French and German number plates on Iseo's picturesque streets and avenues in high season.

Stef Russo, director at Italian real estate finders The Property Organiser said: We're telling our clients who are considering buying in Italy's Lakes region to certainly consider Iseo. It's an area that is comparatively unknown, untainted by overwhelming numbers of visitors and within good vicinity of a number of airports as well as the Swiss border. We believe the real estate market here can only go up over the coming years.

To force home the point, house prices averaged over Italy's lakes dropped by 4.2% – plunging by nearly 9% in some parts of Lake Maggiore, a study last year by property conglomerate Tecnocasa revealed. Iseo showed the strongest performance, recording a much more modest 1.8% decline.

The lake is between Lakes Como and Garda and a few miles north of Brescia and Bergamo. Milan is 80km away, or one hour by rail and 1hr 30mins driving.

It is the country's seventh largest lake, some 24km by 5km, runs north to south and is overlooked by mountains. It is an idyllic retreat for swimmers, divers, sailors, windsurfers, water-skiers and anglers.

The lake also contains Mt Isola, with around 2,000 inhabitants. The two-mile isle is linked to the shore by regular ferry services. With virtually no motor vehicles, the island is very tranquil and is perfect to be seen on cycle or foot, especially the paths that lead to Santuario della Ceriola, the church perched at the summit of the island. Mt Isola has a thriving net-making industry, which started with fishermans' nets but has since expanded to include sporting nets for volleyball and tennis.

Back on the lake's shores, the most beautiful places are on the eastern banks, such as Iseo and Sale Marasino, with the shores opposite being much rockier. Iseo is home to the greatest number of visitor attractions, including an unfinished 900-year old church.

The surrounding countryside is full of monasteries, abbeys and castles that can be found by walking, cycling or, even more leisurely, by horse riding. And in winter, the ski slopes of Montecampione are particularly popular.

 Author Resource:->  Adriana Giglioli writes for Homes and Villas Abroad, who advertise nearly 3,000 houses for sale in Italy. Her areas of expertise include Sicily property to buy and Calabria property.

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