Fairytale island in a lake

Lake Orta – most romantic lake in Italy

Lake Orta, The alpine Lake of Italy in Piedmont,  is 13.4 km long and 2.5 wide, a jewel set in the green of the Piedmont mountains and  woods, the quieter little cousin to majestic  Lake Maggiore. The lake shores are studded with picturesque villages and charming little harbors which tell the story of Lake Orta’s inhabitants, fishermen and country folk of past times. Today they tell contemporary tales of sail boats, motorboats, sport and quality international tourism.

Lake Orta is an ideal destination for families, couples seeking a romantic place to chill out, sports lovers of the extreme and softer kind,  the young and not so young who love nature and its unmistakable energy.

Let’s take a quick virtual trip together round the villages on the banks of the lake, starting from the small town of Omegna, the main urban complex at its northern-most point with its pretty lakeside promenade and colorful street market each Thursday, and then along the eastern shore.

We will  now arrive at Pettenasco, an ancient village that has developed in more modern times with a number of hotels, restaurants, bars and camping-sites along its lakeside walk and main road. From the northern end of the village, the views fade out towards the island of San Giulio while the southern end overlooks the calm countryside of the peninsula which is home to both the UNESCO site of Sacro Monte and the village of Orta San Giulio.

Another four kilometres and we reach Ort, a long time favorite of poets, painters, royal families and captains of industry. Today the medieval walled village of Orta San Giulio is as charming as ever for lovers of peace and tranquility and its mysterious almost spiritual aura. The chocolate box picturesque  Island of San Giulio is dominated by its splendid basilica and a Benedictine convent inhabited by silent nuns who watch benevolently over the Way of Silence where Abbess Anna Maria Canopi’s writings dispense profound thoughts on the powers of Silence and Meditation.


Orta San Giulio – lake Orta, a charming old walled village with villas, palaces and unforgettable views

The medieval walled village of Orta San Giulio – lake Orta, with its gem of an island, the pearl of the Cusio area, is without doubt the most precious jewel of Lake Orta, a priceless treasure trove collecting culture, art, handcrafts, gastronomic tradition and spirituality – a multi-facetted human story through the ages.

Today the village is even more charming as it is entirely traffic free, with its cobbled streets and the steep Motta hill leading up to the ochre colored parish church dedicated to the Santa Maria Assunta, built in 1485 and rebuilt half-way through the 18th century. Don’t miss the ancient road up to the Sacred Mount, a UNESCO world heritage site and Renaissance work of art set in a park with stunning views overlooking the village and lake, and much more besides.

On Orta San Giulio – lake Orta, the main square, Piazza Motta, is an open-air salon on the lake with boats taking people over to the Island and round the lake, little shops and street cafés where you just have to stop for a drink and to breathe in the air of times past and watch the cheerful passers-by.

The Broletto or ancient town hall in the square goes back to 1582 with its portico where the market was held and council chambers on the first floor. The current town hall is the pretty Villa Bossi with its flower-filled garden overlooking the lake and peerless views towards the island of San Giulio, a destination not just for tourists but also for brides-to-be as they seek a romantic place to tie the knot.

The village buildings in grey stone, some going back much further into the mists of time, are irresistibly charming with their roofs in local stone called beole (pronounced bay-olay), and in summer the colorful cascades of flowers from the balconies convey sheer joy to tourists and villagers alike. So you haven’t yet planned your dream holiday on Lake Orta? The Unione Lago D’Orta is the perfect way to find just what you are looking for.


Lake Orta – most romantic lake in Italy


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