Piazza Mario Motta

Orta San Giulio

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 Giulio in the early-morning quiet. From your vantage point, contemplate the Palazzotto, a squat, fresco-enlivened structure sitting atop pillars like giant stilts at the northern end of the square.

Once the seat of a local council, the Palazzotto now occasionally opens for temporary exhibitions, but climb the stairs anyway for good views. The square burbles with local life on market day (Wednesday).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Orta San Giulio attractions

1. Orta San Giulio

0.02 MILES

Overlooking the forest-lined banks of the shimmering Lake Orta, this shore-hugging village has abundant allure. It occupies a kidney-shaped peninsula with…

2. Chiesa dell'Assunta

0.09 MILES

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


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

0.31 MILES

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

0.36 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

6.26 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


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…