Lake Orta is located west of Lake Maggiore: it is the westernmost of the pre-alpine lakes in northern Italy and situated entirely in Piedmont.
The lake covers an area of 18.2 square kilometres and reaches a depth of 143 m.
The climate is mild, the shores and surroundings very picturesque, rich in woods, crops and industrial and tourist activity.
Orta San Giulio is the chosen place for romantic spirits. The village develops through characteristic cobbled alleys, often lined with old stone walls on which portals with triangular lintels appear: the small squares, very similar to Venetian “campielli”, are enlivened by the presence of craft workshops, antique shops and lively meeting places.
The church of Maria Assunta has a beautiful view of Lake Orta whose granite steps lead down to Piazza Motta, the main square of the village. The descent takes place between two wings of houses frescoed in the 16th century and lands in this piazza-salon where the 16th-century Palazzo della Comunità is located, from which two ancient streets branch off to the side, leading to Moccarolo and Villa respectively. The Moccarolo area, in the southern part of the village, features an elegant parade of villas and mansions all with small but lush gardens overlooking the lake. The Villa area, on the other hand, offers a more rustic beauty, with noble period houses embellished with graceful wrought-iron balconies, which can be admired by walking along the narrow and charming Via Olina.
The panoramic point of excellence, however, is the Sacro Monte di Orta, a devotional complex erected in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, dedicated to St Francis of Assisi, and home to 20 chapels and 376 statues depicting the life of the saint.
Located in the Special Nature Reserve of the same name, the complex can be reached by following a small path from Piazza Motta.
The Sacro Monte di Orta is part of the group of nine Alpine Sacred Mountains in Piedmont and Lombardy considered World Heritage Sites, it is located in the municipality of Orta San Giulio in the province of Novara.
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