It stands at the foot of a promontory stretching into the clear blue waters of the lake, a small peninsula on the top of which you can just make out in the distance some chapels amongst the rich greenery: the “Sacro Monte di S. Francesco”, a UNESCO site since 2003.
Walking along the narrow, cobbled lanes with beautiful wrought iron railings at doors and balconies, it is easy to feel like the clocks have been turned back several centuries: here and there wonderful views of the lake appear suddenly between the baroque palazzi and the massive medieval stone walls.
Orta’s heart is the pleasant and lively square known as Piazza Motta surrounded on three sides by rows of old, multicoloured façades, with one side overlooking the lake with its enchanting little island (Isola di San Giulio) the name of which recalls the first evangelizer of this area (400 AD.). A few minutes in a motorboat and this picture-perfect little island can be explored at leisure. Rising upwards behind the square is the breathtaking paved street called “Salita della Motta”, presided over by the elegant façade of the parish church, the Assunta.
Orta is a magical town managing somehow to be both vibrant and passionate, brim full of life and yet having an almost ethereal quality which promotes a feeling of peace and tranquility. Orta is a town that feeds the senses and soothes the soul.
Visit and you will understand.