Excursion to Lake Orta with guided tour of Orta,the Island San Giulio
and the Sacro Monte
Lake Orta - what to visit
Discover with your guide one of the most romantic and charming lakes in Italy,
This excursion can begin on Lake Maggiore or straight on Lake Orta. It is a very
pleasant tour: we shall begin with the visit to the village of Orta San Giulio,
the most important tourist destination on Lake Orta.
The center of this little town has preserved much of its old character: there
are houses with ancient stone roofs, granite portals and forged iron balconies
and gates. Of particular interest is the excursion to the Island San Giulio,
situated in the centre of the lake. There we are going to visit the 12th century
Basilica and have a walk. On the island there is also a Benedictine nunnery.
From Orta we can go on excursion to the Sacro Monte, where with the guided tour
we are going to visit the twenty-one chapels decorated with frescoes and statues
depicting the most important scenes from St. Francis of Assisi’s life, the
patron saint of Italy. Lake Orta offers to you art and nature in a dream of a
little lake is situated close to Lake Maggiore, in Northern Italy. From Lake
Maggiore you can start for a full day excursion to visit this beautiful lake.
At the foot of the lake lies Orta San Giulio, the main tourist destination, a
charming village situated in front of the Island San Giulio. Here the villas
look onto the lake with their gardens and berths. The Basilica on the island is
rich in frescoes and sculptures. A guided tour on the island is suggested.
In the parks of the several villas built on Lake Orta flower in spring azaleas
and rhododendrons. Green and blue are the colors of this "life size" lake. In
Orta you can also go on excursion/pilgrimage to the Sacro Monte to visit the
chapels decorated with scenes from the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
You can take a delightful walk along a road lined with villas and trees or reach
Orta by boat. It is a picturesque little town, whose houses date from the 14th
and 15th century and have stone roofs, granite portals and forged iron balconies
and gates. During the guided tour we will go along the most charming streets,
see nice façades, the market place with the ancient town hall, the tower-house,
a garden with a magnificent view of the lake, hidden yards and the Parish
church. From Orta we can sail for an excursion to the Island San Giulio.
guided tour is not complete without the excursion to the Island San Giulio.
The only island on the lake is situated almost in the centre of Lake Orta and is
dedicated to San Giulio, who was the first to land here and proclaim
Christianity to the inhabitants of this territory.
We will first sail around the island to see the fronts of the villas and the
hidden gardens and then visit it. Inside the Romanesque Basilica there are
frescoes in different styles, a crypt and the most impressive feature, a
masterpiece of the Italian sculpture: a wonderful pulpit with superb carvings
made of serpentine stone dating back to 1100. We are going to have a walk around
the Benedictine nunnery, going along a little lane lined with villas, parks and
balcony of the Sacro Monte - an U.N.E.S.C.O. site - provides a wonderful view
over the lake. The climb is well worthwhile
The guided tour to the twenty-one chapels situated in a pleasant wood will allow
you to learn more about the sacri monti and the life of Saint Francis of Assisi,
the patron saint of Italy, seen by the Counter-Reformation Church.
The sacred mountains (sacri monti) are an Italian feature and almost all of them
were built in Piedmont. Inside the chapels charming frescoes and statues depict
the most important events in Saint Francis of Assisi’s life.
Why a guided tour?
Lake Orta is charming, rich in hidden spots and details that only with a guided
tour you can find. You guide will help you appreciate this "jewel-case" of art
and beauty held in a delightful landscape. The Island San Giulio has been
compared to a jewel set in the water.
Before landing to the island, we are going to sail around it, which is the only
way to see the villas and the façade of the Romanesque basilica. In the heart of
Orta we are going to walk along the most charming little streets and we will
enter a hidden garden. On the sacro monte of Orta we will devote ourselves to
the most interesting chapels in order to understand Saint Francis’s life and the
history of the sacred mounts in Northern Italy. You guide will see to all the
timing and the things to visit, you are on holiday!
FIND OUT MORE...
This is a very successful tourist destination and it lies
in Northern Italy, close to Lake Maggiore. The excursion can begin straight from
Orta or from Lake Maggiore.
On this charming lake lie some little villages and only a town, Omegna, as well
as the important tourist destination Orta San Giulio, situated in front of the
Island San Giulio, the main tourist destination on Lake Orta.
Strategically situated along the roman Simplon road, the lake has a rich
The lake is surrounded by mountains and a luxuriant vegetation. There are
several villas looking onto the lake, with huge parks and gardens were secular
trees and huge camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons and magnolias thrive.
Stone is the traditional building material of Orta and was employed for portals,
columns, capitals, base of columns, roofs and stone pavements.
On a nice day you can see the tops of Mount Rosa from the foot of the lake.
Lake Orta is much smaller than Lake Maggiore: you can almost take in the whole
lake at a glance. It induces you to enjoy its art and nature. Few square
kilometers allow you to make a wonderful half a day or a full day excursion. You
can begin with a guided tour/pilgrimage to the Sacro Monte, have lunch in Orta
and devote the afternoon to an excursion to the heart of Orta and to the Island
Beautifully situated, it is one of the most charming Italian villages.
It seems to be back in the past, as cars are not allowed.
The centre of this little town has preserved ancient houses with granite portal
and forged iron balconies and gates, small lanes, hidden yards, little
kitchen-gardens and many little shops.
There are various sights in the village: Via Motta with ancient houses and
elegant mansions, the Parish Church with an ancient portal made of serpentine
stone; the ancient town hall, built in the traditional architecture that is
characteristic of the Lombard town-halls; the main street, shut in by high
buildings; a garden looking onto the lake, with one of the most beautiful views
over the island, with scented wisterias and roses and the Market Square,
surrounded by ancient houses with arcades and trees, with a wonderful view over
the lake and the island St. Jules.
To appreciate Orta you should look about the small lanes: that’s how you can
find the tower-house, once looking onto the lake, stones carved with coats of
arms and symbols, hidden courtyards, breathtaking panoramic points, secrets and
curiosities. You will find it all out with your guide!
It is the only island on the lake and is situated almost in
the centre of Lake Orta. Old tradition has it, that on the island lived serpents
and a dragon until when, in the 4th C., Saint Jules built a church and therefore
fulfilled a vow he had made some years before.
On this island lived only important persons: saints (five are buried below the
altar), dukes, queens, bishops. Still today it is it is an exclusive place.
Just five minutes boat far away from Orta, the island is worth a visit: the
ancient basilica, rebuilt in the 12th C., has works of art like frescoes painted
in different styles and a pulpit made of serpentine stone, a real treasure of
the Romanesque art.
With the guided tour you can appreciate not only the works of art inside the
basilica, but also the hidden spots on the island.
Since 2003 all the sacri monti belong to U.N.E.S.C.O. They are an Italian
feature and most of them are situated in Piedmont.
This is the fourth sacro monte built and one of the most complete ones.
As it took almost two hundred years to build the twenty-one chapels, you can see
different architectonic styles and the change in taste in the statues and
frescoes that decorate them and that depict in a charming way, like a real
theatre, scenes taken from Saint Francis of Assisi’s life.
The life narrated in the chapel is the life as it was seen by the
The guided tour takes place in a wood with views over the lake. We shall go over
the life of saint Francis of Assisi, which is depicted by statues and frescoes.
We will also see how the Counter-Reformation Church saw in Francis of Assisi a
way to restore the order and to defend itself from the accusations of the
Signs and symbols lead the visitor/pilgrim. The most important artists working
for the Cathedral of Milan were called here to paint the chapels or execute the
statues made of terracotta.