There is a code of silence that surrounds Lake Orta in northern Italy. Visitors are reluctant to tell others about its beauty for fear of increasing … well, the number of visitors!
The focal point of the lake is the captivating medieval village of Orta San Giulio, often referred to simply as Orta. You could drive right around the lake in a day. Outside Orta, specific sights are few and far between. The ride along the largely flat, east bank of the lake is the best for lake views, while on the west bank, the main road runs mostly high up in the hills and out of sight of the lake. Some out-of-the-way villages on the west bank are fun to explore, however. Roads stretch away from the lake on either side to the mountains. To the east is Monte Mottarone. To the northwest stretches the beautifully wild and little-visited Valstrona.

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ORTA SAN GIULIO
Orta San Giulio is built on the slopes of a steep hill (the Sacro Monte) that forms a peninsula jutting out into the lake. A favourite place for romantic souls, the village is a maze of picturesque streets and narrow cobbled lanes, flanked by old stone walls with doorways topped with triangular architraves. The little squares, reminiscent of the campielli of Venice, are enlivened by the presence of craft boutiques, antique shops and lively cafés. There is a splendid view of Lake Orta from the 15th century Church of Maria Assunta.