A guided visit on Lake Orta is a real must if you haven’t been there yet: of course the best way to do it is by going around with a licensed local Guide who will ensure that you have a complete and thorough experience!
Lake Orta - the clearest and cleanest of all the large-sized Italian lakes, which makes us very proud! - is, let’s say, the “perfect” lake for anyone: not too big or small, not overbuilt at all, dotted with many old villages with stone roofs, painted walls and baroque decorations of unexpected beauty: right here the alpine building style, made out of rock, stone and wood, skilfully combined in the past centuries with the more sophisticated and colourful style of the southern valley towns, like Pavia or Novara. Besides numerous and amazing cultural visits, on Lake Orta you can do varied sporting activities like excursions, hiking, nordic walking, climbing, mountain biking, swimming, diving, sailing, canoeing and horseback riding.
With a length of around 13 kms (8 miles) and a maximum depth of 143 metres (470 feet), Lake Orta is located in northern Piedmont, just a few kilometres from Lake Maggiore. You can reach it in half an hour or little more from the south (A26 Exits: “Arona” or “Borgomanero”) and the north (from Stresa, Baveno or Verbania), or also directly from Stresa taking the winding but pleasant, superpanoramic road that leads first to Gignese. The massive Mount Mottarone (4892 ft.) towers between the lakes Maggiore and Orta: from up there you’ll enjoy breathtaking views in every direction!
The most inhabited town of Lake Orta – also called Cusio – is Omegna (15.000 inhab.) which is set on the northernmost tip of the lake: many locals and tourists regularly pay a visit to its colourful and lively Thursday market. Some lovely villages dot both sides of the lake in the centre of which the Island S. Giulio and a picturesque, small peninsula, stand out magnificently. Here is located the beautiful old village of Orta San Giulio; it draws tens of thousands of visitors every year and nonetheless it strikes you for an unspeakable sense - jealously preserved! - of authenticity and exclusiveness. Numerous are the shops, the cafés and the good restaurants, one of which can boast two Michelin stars!
On top of Orta’s promontory is located one of the most charming Unesco Heritage sites: the Sacro Monte of S. Francis of Assisi, dedicated to the adventurous and pious life of that medieval saint, was mainly erected through the 17° century.
Orta, the Sacro Monte and the Island of S. Giulio are nowadays among the most requested destinations in Northern Italy to be visited in a full or even a half day.
But Lake Orta’s beauties are many more, and this website tells you something about most of them through descriptions and pictures. You can move on the lake pretty easily taking one of the numerous taxi boats and passenger boats which during the high season (April-October) offer many rides a day. The Island is the favourite site for guided visits: its history is charming and the well preserved Church - as old as nine hundred years! - boasts precious art treasures. The true heart of the Island is one of the most important Benedictine Abbeys in Italy: being a cloistered monastery it’s never open to guided visits.
Some sites around Lake Orta have literally breathtaking views; among them the Sacro Monte of Orta, the Santuario della Bocciola, the church of Madonna del Sasso, the Mount Mesma Franciscan Convent, the tiny village of Quarna, the Mount Mottarone.
You’ll find the related texts here, but remember: feel free to contact Ortaeoltre.it for a guided visit wherever you fancy going!