Lago d’Orta, or in English, Lake Orta, is a small lake in northern Italy to the west of lake Maggiore.
Lake Orta, being one of Italy’s smallest sub-alpine lakes, is largely untraveled, making for a beautiful and quiet destination of splendour. The incredibly picturesque lake lies in the lap of pine tree covered slopes with the minute S. Giulio island as the central focal point.
There are numerous quaint towns surrounding this 18 square kilometre stretch of water with the main town of Orta San Giulio on the western side of the lake. This small town of less than 1 200 inhabitants has a panoramic view of Lake Orta and also the S. Giulio Isle. This pendant shaped island, named after St. Julius, houses a 19th-century seminary and an ancient basilica.
The main piazza is where a market is held on Wednesdays. According to locals, this market has been held here every Wednesday since 1228. Everything ‘Italian’ is sold at the multitude of stores, ranging from traditional sausages to books and ceramics.
Orta has a rich history and the architecture from bygone era's dominate the landscape. The backdrop to the old, yet enchanting architecture, is the Sacro Monte di San Francesco. This national park atop the hillside is a solid 100 metre climb, but viewing the 20 uniquely designed chapels which were dedicated to the life of St Francis of Assisi, is well worth the effort.
There are regular boat services departing from Orta San Giulio to towns such as Omegna and Pella and other small towns and lakeside villages. These boats can be hired in Orta San Giulio.
Mount Mottarone is situated between Lago d'Orta and Lago Maggiore. This alpine mountain has spectacular views of both Lake Orta and Lake Maggiore. It is also a winter ski area with cable cars running from Stresa, where you are able to hire ski’s and boots.
The entire lake Orta region is littered with bars and restaurants serving mainly scrumptous traditional Italian cuisine and local wines. Both modern and rustic holiday apartments are plentiful around the entire Lake Orta area. Most vacation apartments are beautifully furnished and well-equipped, and have all the modern day requirements from microwave ovens to washing machines.
Lake Orta, with its ancient charm, breath taking churches, interesting museums and astonishingly beautiful mountain trails has everything the sophisticated traveller and everyday holiday maker could ask for.
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