Orta San Giulio

Lake Orta

Overlooking the forest-lined banks of the shimmering Lake Orta, this shore-hugging village has abundant allure. It occupies a kidney-shaped peninsula with most of the narrow lanes running parallel to the water where they converge on Piazza Mario Motta and its small port.

The village and the surrounding hill topped by the Sacro Monte di San Francesco can be circumnavigated on a series of walking paths measuring around 3km in length. You’ll be close to the water for two-thirds of the route, walking through the cobbled streets of Orta San Guilio and along a narrow waterside esplanade that creeps past lakeside gardens, family vegetable plots and private fishing jetties.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lake Orta attractions

1. Piazza Mario Motta

0.02 MILES

Here's a picture of how life really should be lived: rise early and head for a coffee on Piazza Mario Motta, gazing across at the sun-struck Isola San…

2. Chiesa dell'Assunta


A short walk uphill from the Piazza Mario Motta on the waterfront, this church dates back to the 15th century, though it was rebuilt in the 1700s. It has…

3. Sacro Monte di San Francesco

0.21 MILES

Beyond the lush gardens and residences that mark the hill rising behind Orta is a kind of parallel ‘town’ – the sacro monte, where 20 small chapels…

4. Isola San Giulio


Anchored barely 500m in front of Piazza Mario Motta is Isola San Giulio. The island is dominated by the 12th-century Basilica di San Giulio, full of…

5. Basilica di San Giulio

0.35 MILES

This atmospheric church is the main attraction on the tiny Isola San Giulio and was built over various periods dating back to the 9th century. Its bell…

6. Monte Mottarone

6.28 MILES

The cable-car trip up Monte Mottarone (1492m) from the northwestern end of Stresa offers pretty views over Lake Maggiore, including Isola Bella and Isola…

7. Museo dell’Ombrello e del Parasole

6.71 MILES

Those driving to Mottarone or Orta San Giulio (for Lake Orta) from Stresa could stop in Gignese (8km from Stresa) for the intriguing Museo dell’Ombrello e…

8. Sacro Monte di San Carlo

6.87 MILES

When Milan's superstar bishop San Carlo Borromeo (1538–84) was declared a saint in 1610, his cousin Federico ordered the creation of a sacro monte in his…