By Jeff MacGregor, Smithsonian Magazine

The lake is impossible. The lake is a painting of a lake; the water a painting of water. Like floating on a second sky. Too blue. Too cool. Too deep. Impossible. The mountains, too. Too steep, too green with trees, too white with snow. Villages pour down the hills and run russet and ocher and brown to the water’s edge. Red tile rooftops necklace the shore. Flat calm, and at midday the quiet carries from one end of Lago d’Iseo to the other, from the vineyards to the mines to the small hotels. The stillness here has weight.