Cultural Italy Blog: Art, Coffee & Love

Magic Island of Lake Orta


This place is simply too beautiful to be true. Too charming to be real. And too antique to be still there.  Lake Orta and its dreamlike Island San Giulio surrounded by winter mist and ancient mystery is no doubt among Italy’s most picturesque spots.

Lakes of Northern Italy are famous all over the world. Garda tempts with its luxury living. Maggiore attracts with its alpine snow-capped peaks. Como brags about its star inhabitants like George Clooney who moved there several years ago. However, there is much more to be discovered than this famous trinity. Like Lake Orta. Not at all less locally famous (though a little less touristic which is a great plus!) tiny Lago D’Orta is a Piedmont jewel definitely worth of a visit.

Only 275 meters (902 feet) long and 140 meters (459 feet) wide San Giulio Island is the number-one attraction of the lake. Characteristically Italian, this tiny island looks just stunning from outside. However, once the best views from the shore are spotted, don’t miss the chance to enjoy its picturesque streetscape and unbelievable architectural ensembles. A quick boat service to the island is available every 15 minutes.

Next, climb Sacro Monte di Orta. From this Sacred Mountain, which is a Roman Catholic devotional complex, open up the best panoramic views on the lake, the surrounding mountain landscape and San Giulio Island.

Finally, don’t miss the main architectural (and gastronomic) landmark of the borgo. Villa Crespi and its evocative Moorish silhouette dating back to 1879 today is a luxury hotel and a restaurant managed by Antonino Cannavacciuolo (the Italian Gordon Ramsay) that boasts two Michelin stars.

Maria Novozhilova


twitter: @NovozhilovaM