A walking holiday in Italy around Lake Orta: a charming and little-known gem
If ever there was a place to visit on your Italy lake region walking stay that is lesser known, with fewer people but with just as much charm and beauty, it is Lake Orta. Located 25km west of Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta is the smallest of the lakes in northern Italy. Surrounded by high mountains, the village of Orta San Guilio is an authentic and pretty place, not to be missed.
Exploring the village of Orta San Giulio on your Italy lake region walking tour
Located on the eastern shore of the lake, Orta is a medieval village with narrow picturesque streets and stunning views over the lake. It has a part mountain feel to it with stone houses and part bourgeois feel with grand mansions, the two parts combining to create a wonderful charm.
At the entrance to the village, you will come across Villa Crespi, a Moorish style villa, built during the 19th century by a rich businessman. Today, the villa is a luxury hotel. It is a delight on your Italy walking trip to take the time to meander with no great purpose through the pretty shaded streets that lead eventually to the lake. The beating heart of the village is the main square ‘Piazza Mario Motta’ facing the lake and one of the best places to sit, soak up the ambiance and admire the view.
The island of San Guilio
The island of San Guilio is the only island on the lake. It is home to a religious sanctuary dominated by the imposing basilica dating from the 12th century with its Romanesque bell tower. The monastery next to the basilica is home to 80 nuns who live in total silence. The island exerts a real fascination: an enchanting view of Orta and the surrounding peaks!
Enjoy a peaceful walk on your self-guided Italy walking holiday and follow the charming trail that circles the lake. It is known as the trail of silence « via del silenzio » with verses of wisdom and meditation dotted along the path.
The Sacro Monte of Orta, a UNESCO natural reserve
In the middle of the woods, at the summit of the hill that dominates Orta, stands the Sacro Monte with 20 chapels dating from the 17th and 18th century. Each one is decorated with renaissance style frescos and clay sculptures illustrating the life of St Francis of Assisi. The nature that surrounds this spiral itinerary is as interesting as its artistic heritage. From the square in front of the Basilica dedicated to San Nicola, the view of the lake and the island of San Giuilio is exceptional.
Our best self-guided walking tour in the Italian lakes here
- Add some extra day to explore Lake Orta !