Lake Orta and its romantic atmosphere is the ideal destination for a weekend getaway, far from the noises of the city and surrounded by a luxurious nature. The best way to move around is by car or by bike for the sport lovers. It is possible to ride the Anello Azzurro – the circuit that runs all around the lake and offers magnificent views of the lake and the sorrounding mountains (it is approximately 40 kilometres long).
The town Orta San Giulio is the real treaure, and one of the Most Beautiful Borghi of Italy. We reccommend that you let the magic atmosphere get to you by walking through its narrow streets, admiring the picturesque historical buildings, drinking an aperitivo in Piazza Motta while enjoying the view of San Giulio Island, and visiting the gardens of Villa Bossi, the townhall, where many weedings are celebrated every year. From Piazza Motta you can take a boat to reach the island to visit a Benedictin Abbey, where lay the remains of Saint Giulio, a real protagonist of the legend that sorrounds the birth of this place. Indeed, as the legend goes, Saint Giulio freed the island from monsters and dragons towards the end of the IV Century. Today the island also hosts a cloistered convent.
View of San Giulio Island from Piazza Motta, overlooked by the Santuario della Madonna del Sasso.
Getting back to Orta, you can go up the hill from Piazza Motta to the Church Santa Maria Assunta, and you can continue until you reach the top of the hill where there is the Sacro Monte di Orta, Unesco Heritage Site.
The lively town Omegna is certainly worth a visit. It is the birthplace of a very notorious Italian children’s writer, Gianni Rodari. The athmosphere is particularly fascinating along the promenade, in the historical centre and in the Parco della Fantasia di Rodari, ideal for families and children.
A fun fact. The lake water flows into the Nigoglia, which merges with the stream Strona before getting into river Toce and then reaching Lake Maggiore. The curious thing is that Nigoglia goes “backward”! It is the only outflowing stream of the Alpine-foothills lakes flowing North! The citizens of Omegna are very proud of this, to such an extent that they made it their motto, written on the façade of the townhall: “La Nigoglia scorre in su; e la legge la facciamo noi!” (“Nigoglia goes North, so we make our own laws!”)
You can also spend an afternoon in the small village of Pella, on the other side of the lake, just opposite Orta.You can either reach it by boat from Orta, or viceversa.
The last stop of this magic weekend atthe lake can be Santuario della Madonna del Sasso, called il balcone del Cusio – The terrace on the Cusio lands, as it offers a breathtaking view over the area.
San Giulio Island and the town of Orta from Madonna del Sasso.