Many travelers have heard of Lake Como in Piedmont region... and many go there, or to Lake Maggiore--in droves. But how about a smaller, more intimate, just as beautiful destination in Italy's lake region? Instead of visiting Lake Como, you can go to a lake that even many Italians haven't heard of: Lake Orta.
Lake Orta, is one of the smaller (7 miles long) and less known of Italy's Alpine lakes. Orta seems nowadays to have become secret and secluded, but at the same time holds enough amenities and entertainment for any visitor. Orta is a mystical, quieter setting... you can imagine fairies and princesses. It's a watery world of church bells, pine trees, mountain slopes, cliffs and snow capped peaks. Then there is the island of San Giulio--floating in the lake like a mystical kingdom with legends of dragons in its wake. There are water ferries that take you to the island where you can visit its Basilica, the Benedictine Monastery or simply wander it's quaint, picturesque streets. The adjacent town of Orta San Giulio--sitting on a peninsula with water on three sides--would be a perfect hub for visiting the lake. Stone archways, waterfront strolls, lanterns lighting the evenings... make it a fine romantic getaway. There is even a great market every Wednesday in the Piazza.
Events at Lake Orta include the annual Festival of Ancient Music, an international poetry festival each autumn, and the town of Omegna puts on a magnificent fireworks display every August. For the kids there are water parks and bob-sled runs, and of course there is the lake... swimming, skiing, fishing or simply sailing or pleasure cruising.
Lake Maggiore is nearby and can be included as a day trip from Orta. There is a cable car in the nearby town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore that runs to the top of Mottarone, a mountain with amazing views of the Alpine lake district. And in the lake nearby Stresa is Isola Bella, an aptly named island with one of the most stunning palazzo and gardens in all of Italy.
In the summer the lake is alive with watersports, but you will also find a workaday life here. Much more real than highly trafficked tourist centers. Plan a visit, enjoy the lake and the views and send us a post card!
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