To the west of the sumptuous Lake Maggiore hid a small, discreet and little-known lake. Lake Orta, located about twenty kilometers from its great neighbour, is a real hidden gem. More intimate and picturesque than the great Italian lakes, Lake Orta and its “capital” Orta San Giulio is an ideal place for a romantic weekend for lovers. Because yes Italy still has a few places like this, intimate and preserved from mass tourism.
Enchanting, the small lake already seduced famous tourists in the 19th century, especially the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who stayed there for a few days with Lou-Andréa Salomé in 1882. They were dazzled by the beauty of the place and claimed to have lost track of time. It must be said that Orta San Giulio is the image of the lake, small in size but large by its charm and beauty. The mountain-like and bourgeois-looking village is presented through a beautiful central square bordering the lake with its elegant taxi boats and a tangle of small pebble-paved alleys that immediately plunge the visitor into an atmosphere out of time.
A postcard setting
The alleys of the village, forbidden to cars, invite a slow walk in order to admire the elegance of the great bourgeois mansions with their ochre and pastel facades, to be charmed by the old stones and to contemplate the poetry of the pontoons wooden seems to venture on the water and boats laid on the shore waiting to set sail. And if you add to the landscape a small elegant and mysterious island laid on the water, you get a postcard setting with Lake Orta, undoubtedly one of the most romantic Italian lakes. Beyond the natural beauty of the place, Orta San Giulio also has a significant cultural appeal with the site of the Sacro Monte, a sanctuary of 20 unesco World Heritage chapels and the famous Isola San Giulio with its convent and basilica.
Located at the foot of the Alps, Orta San Giulio offers a setting to live a weekend in love in the best conditions. If you want to get off the beaten track of the Italian lakes, Lake Orta is offering you away from the tourist waves. An alternative destination full of romance for the smallest and most charming of the Piedmontese lakes.
Lovers, at your luggage !
Isola San Giulio
As if Orta San Giulio wasn’t enough, people and nature had the excellent idea of adding a tiny and mysterious island to the village. Omnipresent in the eyes of the visitor, the island is drawn on the horizon and gives a special charm to Orta San Giulio. The isola San Giulio, also known as the “island of silence”, allows you to discover a Benedictine abbey and a Romanesque basilica and to enjoy the tranquillity that emerges from this place like no other. Go to the pier of Piazza Motta to visit this postcard setting.
On a hill overlooking the village is the Sacro Monte. Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, this sanctuary dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi is a renowned place of pilgrimage. It consists of twenty Baroque chapels recounting the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. This sanctuary is part of the entire Sacred Mountains of the Regions of Piedmont and Lombardy. A short climb from Piazza Motta to do absolutely to enjoy a magnificent panorama and a charming walk.
The central location of Orta San Giulio with its café terraces and shops, piazza Motta is a postcard setting with boat pontoon and the Isola San Giulio as a background. Ideal for a coffee while waiting for the boat to depart, to stroll under the arcades or to admire the Renaissance-style communal palace, once the seat of the local government.
On your way to the hotel San Rocco, via Motta takes you to the end of the village to start a walk along the water’s edge on a small paved road. A charming walk to discover the beautiful villas installed on the shore and the magnificent views of the lake.
#When to go
As with other destinations in this blog, I advise you to go to Orta San Giulio off-season. Spring, autumn or even winter will allow you to walk quietly and avoid tourists in summer. A preference for winter in order to enjoy a mysterious, foggy atmosphere and to walk hand in hand with the feeling of being alone in the world. Beware, many establishments close from mid-November to March and there is less transport. Weather in Orta San Giulio
Milan Malpensa Airport 40km away. Prices generally the cheapest on Easyjet from Paris, London, Brussels and Berlin. Then the ideal is to rent a car to reach Directly Orta San Giulio. Flight search : www.skyscanner.com
Whatever the destination, I advise travelers to book accommodation in the centre to take full advantage of the charms of the destination. If the village center is the best place to stay, you can also rent accommodation on the north shore for a waterfront stay with a beautiful pedestrian walk that will take you to the centre of the village in a few minutes. Orta San Giulio offers a range of accommodation to its visitors : superb hotels, charming guest rooms and apartments of all price ranges. Nevertheless, know that Italy is a relatively expensive destination, especially the North.
Hotel San Rocco
Magnificent four-star waterfront hotel and set in a 17th century convent. The most beautiful and the most romantic. Price: Double room from 165 to 335 euros. Also offering suites.
Overlooking the lake, this luxury “Relais et Château” hotel is a unique and impressive place with its Moorish-inspired architecture and high-end service. Very nice view of the lake. Only negative, its location at the exit of the village. Gastronomic restaurant. Rooms from 349 euros.
Also many rentals on Airbnb and other seasonal rental platforms. Favorite for a beautiful apartment richly decorated with a magnificent view of the isola San Giulio and piazza Motta, starting at 140 euros. Apartment ISOLA
For a search for guest rooms :
More info on Lake Orta :
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