View of Breno from the walking path to the castle
After skiing at Donico resort near Passo del Pressolano on Monday, we had a rest day on Tuesday. We are Australian and we love to swim. We now live in Norway where it is never warm enough for us to swim in the fjord and the indoor swimming pools are breathtakingly expensive. The last time that we all swam was in July 2015 in Dubai on our journey to Trondheim. We started Tuesday with a swim in the excellent pool in Lovere (Piscine di Lovere). It was reasonably priced with 6.5€ per adult, 4.5€ for our 8 year old daughter and our 6 year old son was free. We took our own swimming costumes, goggles and towels.
Looking up towards the castle from the piazza in Breno
After paying we were divided by gender and sent into the boot rooms where we left our shoes then into the enormous and very clean change rooms with abundant lockers. On the pathway to the pool we had to pass under a shower of warm water, to ensure that all patrons are clean before swimming. We were about to swim when the lifeguard gave all of us caps to cover our hair. I was very impressed with the standard of hygiene and didn’t see any bandaid or other miscellaneous flotsam or jetsam in the pool. For our children there was a ?10m long and fairly shallow children’s pool with noodles to play with and deep enough for them to swim. For adults there was a ?33m pool with lanes for lap swimming.
I settled into the pace of the older man in my lane and swam 34 laps before my son was too cold and needed to get out. It was bliss! We found warm showers and more than 20 wall mounted dryers with individual mirrors for drying hair and many were in the men’s change room too. It’s a great facility!
Beautiful steel sculpture at Breno castle
Back at our apartment we enjoyed coffee and the beautiful view across Lago Iseo with beautiful mountains. The afternoon stretched out ahead of us and before the niggling and bickering typical of families could set in I suggested that we go for a drive up Valle Carmonica, to the north of Lovere.
Breno castle gate with a special sculpture made of steel off cuts
Driving along the valley, beside the Oglio river, we could see small farms, warehouses, villages and picturesque churches on ridges, all towered over by steep mountains. On one ridge we spotted a crumbling stone castle and decided to explore so we turned into Breno. Italy is infamous for poor signposting and non standard opening hours and Lombardy is no exception although in this case a couple of signs did point towards the castle and we could see it as we were driving. We parked in a piazza and walked through charming alleyways to another piazza, this time with a fountain.
Charming alleyways in Breno
We stopped in a nice pasticceria bar and watched the locals come and have a drink and a light snack while we did the same and we were watched in return.
Beautiful display of pastries
We walked up the steep path, enjoying the view of the old town on the way. An artist whose name I have forgotten had recently made steel sculptures that are placed around the castle and scattered around Breno. The sculptures are lovely and I would like one in my garden (one day when I live in my own house again because we are renting now during my expat assignment in Norway).
The castle is on the site of a neolithic settlement that was later Roman. The castle itself was built at the time of Frederick I “Barbarossa” (1100 – 1200), then turned into a military stronghold at the time of the Venetian Republic (1400-1500) and finally, after being abandoned in 1598, it was reused as a stone quarry.
View through the castle gate
Unsurprisingly the castle was closed but we enjoyed looking at the sculptures and wandering around and climbing a little on the walls.
View across Valle Carmonica from Breno castle
It seems that the attraction of a beautiful view is not new but existed for neolithic people as well!