Casa Vacanze Orta San Giulio

Lake Orta Vacation Rentals


Casa Vacanze Orta San Giulio

Lake Orta Vacation Rentals



Orta San Giulio (NO) - Italy

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Holiday apartments on Lake Orta




Casa Vacanze Orta San Giulio  -  Made by FLAZIO |COOKIE POLICY|PRIVACY POLICY|









Lake Orta, also called Cusio, is the westernmost of the Italian alpine lakes, shared between the Provinces of Novara and Verbano-Cusio-Ossola. Separated to the east from Lake Maggiore by the peaks of Mount Mottarone (1492 m), on the other side a number of mountains divides it from Valsesia. It covers an area of about 18 sq km, measuring approximately 13.5 km in length and 2.5 km in width, with a maximum depth of 143 m.
At the center of the basin, in front of the town of Orta, is the small San Giulio island: despite its perimeter of only 650 meters, it has been over the centuries the real hearth of the area.
A peculiar feature of the lake is to have its outflow facing north, the river Nigoglia, which flows through the city of Omegna to the river Toce.


The lake seen from the top of Mount Mottarone



The area of Lake Orta, or rather Lake San Giulio, as it was called in ancient times, is rich in historical evidences that, starting from prehistoric times, lead us to the present.
According to tradition, the brothers Julius and Julian, born in Greece, arrived in the Italian peninsula at the time of Emperor Theodosius (second half of the fourth century AD), first in Rome and later in the area of Novara and Lake Orta, trying to spread Christianity by building churches and opposing paganism. The buildings constructed by St. Julius and St. Julian were eventually one hundred: in the ninety-ninth, the church of San Lorenzo in Gozzano near the southern shore of the lake, was buried Julian. Julius instead, that later became the patron saint of bricklayers, was inhumed in the hundredth church he built: the Basilica dedicated to the Apostles located on the small island that will be named after him.
The archaeological excavations conducted over the past 20 years in the Basilica of the island and in the church of San Lorenzo in Gozzano allow us to date the early stages of their construction at the Paleochristian age, witnessing the early Christianization of the area.
In the early sixth century AD the island was fortified, making the most of the strategic location of a place that, thanks to its small size, was easily defensible. In the same period the Basilica was rebuilt, much larger and enriched with precious liturgical furnishings, like the marble decorations that can be seen in the small museum located in the crypt. In 553 AD the bishop of Novara, Filakrius, was buried in the Basilica; therefore the island should have been considered a much safer site than the city to escape the dangers of the Gothic war.
A few decades later the Lombard Duke Mimulf, rebel to the King Agilulf, found refuge in San Giulio; it's not clear whether the island was the real capital of his Duchy or if it was a temporary shelter, however his attempt wasn't successful and the rebel was beheaded by Agilulf in 590 AD.
The fortifications of the island were further strengthened during the following centuries with the construction of the "donjon" (a tower secured by a fence), on top of the hill that stands in the middle of it. In 957 AD Berengar of Ivrea took refuge there, and a few years later, in 962, his wife Willa resisted for two months before surrendering to Emperor Otto's siege. According to tradition, William of Volpiano was born on the island during this siege: a Benedictine monk that will be abbot of Dijon and a valuable architect to whom we owe, among other things, the church of the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel and the foundation of the abbey of Fruttuaria.
In the twelfth century the church was again rebuilt flanked by the bell tower, assuming its present appearance: it can be considered one of the greatest examples of Romanesque art in the region.
During the Middle Ages the influence of the Bishops of Novara on Lake Orta, already evident since Filakrius burial, clashed with the ambitions of the City of Novara, and was eventually formalized through the establishment of the "Riviera di San Giulio" in 1219. The "Riviera di San Giulio" was an independent fief ruled by the Bishop of Novara, which included the island and the southern part of the lake up to Gozzano, while the territory around Omegna remained under the City's control. The episcopal power on the Riviera resisted for centuries: the fief was handed over to the House of Savoy only in 1817. A few decades later, in 1840, the appearance of San Giulio changed forever, with the demolition of the ancient castle ordered by Bishop Morozzo to build in its place the massive structure of the Episcopal seminary that still dominates the upper part of the island.


According to tradition, at the end of the 16th century, the headless body of the Lombard Duke Mimulf was found inside this column base from the Roman period, excavated and used as a sarcophagus. It currently serves as an alms box inside the Basilica

St. Julius lands on the island sailing on his mantle. Detail of the fresco inside the Basilica, 15th century

Fragment of an ancient inscription today walled up in the Basilica's crypt (mid 5th to mid 6th century)


The old prints prior to 1841 show the ancient look of the island, with its castle and its tower instead of the massive building of the former seminary




Lake Orta is rich in artistic and natural treasures: walking along its shores or in the paths on the hills surrounding it, always gives you new panoramic views, enriched with colors that change with the seasons. The navigation service provides convenient access to the island and to the other towns of the Riviera (Pella, Omegna, Pettenasco). 

San Giulio Island: it's the real hearth of the lake. Follow the little road that runs around it, looking closely at the bell tower and at the impressive size of the former seminary, now the site of a cloistered convent. Visit the Basilica with its decorations, frescoes and the beautiful pulpit, and don't forget the little museum in the crypt under the altar.

Orta San Giulio: included among the most beautiful villages in Italy, its historic center has remained almost unaltered since the Middle Ages, with the wonderful setting of Piazza Motta enhanced by the 16th century Palazzo della Comunità della Riviera, a symbol of the many centuries of local autonomy. Explore the streets full of shops and restaurants, walk along the lakeside and, if the weather allows it, enjoy a swim and relax.

Sacro Monte di Orta: located on the hill which overlooks the town of Orta, it was recognized in 2003 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Built from 1590 near the existing church of San Nicolao, it tells through its 20 chapels, decorated with paintings and sculptures, the life of St. Francis of Assisi. The views of the lake and the island that you can enjoy from the terrace of the Sacro Monte are absolutely priceless.

Pettenasco: village located on the shore of the lake not far from Orta San Giulio. You can walk along the lakeside promenade and the torrent Pescone, after visiting the church of S. Audenzio, the medieval house and the Museum of Wood.

Castle of Buccione: built in the 12th century on top of a hill located in a strategic position at the southern end of the lake, still today its powerful tower (23 m high) welcomes visitors who reach the region.

Corconio: small hamlet of Orta, situated halfway up on the hills surrounding the lake. Its quaint old town, with the beautiful church of Santo Stefano, offers enchanting panoramic views. An ancient road connects Corconio to the hamlet of Legro.

Monte Mesma: the Franciscan monastery, located on the hill facing the Castle of Buccione, was built starting from 1619 on the ruins of a medieval castle commissioned by the City of Novara during the fight against the Episcopal authority to conquer the power in the region. The castle and the small fortified village beside it were destroyed in 1358.

Madonna del Sasso: from the open space in front of the sanctuary, built on the top of a rocky spur overlooking the western shore of the lake, you can dominate the entire landscape.

Legro: the houses of this little hill hamlet of Orta San Giulio, where you can also find the train station, have been decorated with 45 paintings inspired by famous movies. An ancient road connects Legro to the other hamlet of Corconio.

Pella: situated on the western shore of the lake, just in front of the island which appears very near. You can walk along the lakeside near the medieval tower, visit the ancient church of San Filiberto (11th century) just outside the village, and maybe sunbathe in one of the nearby beaches.

Omegna: located at the northern end of the lake, it has for decades been home to many important companies active in the household goods sector. In addition to its characteristic old town, the lakefront is worth visiting, which follows the curve of the shore in all its length. The town is crossed by the river Nigoglia, the lake outflow oddly facing north, which can be followed for a while along a pleasant promenade that leads to the Fantasy Park dedicated to the famous writer Gianni Rodari, a native of the city. In the last two weeks of August, during the popular Festa di San Vito, Omegna is full of tourists coming in droves to watch the spectacular fireworks over the water. On Thursdays is held a very popular street market.

Quarna: perched on the mountains that flank the north-western part of the lake, it can be reached by a winding road that starts from Omegna. At an altitude of 796 m lies Quarna Sotto, with its "Museo Etnografico e dello Strumento Musicale a Fiato" that testifies the ancient tradition of local craftsmanship in wind musical instruments. Climbing further, you can get to Quarna Sopra, at an altitude of 886 m. From there you can reach the panoramic spots of Belvedere and Castellaccio, with a breathtaking view of the lake and of the surrounding mountains.

Gozzano: small town located at the southern end of the lake, it was the entrance to the lands of the Bishops of Novara. The landscape is dominated by the Basilica of San Giuliano, built on top of a hill and protected by an ancient castle, of which today can be seen only a few remains confused in the walls and in the alleys of the old town. According to tradition, St. Julian founded in Gozzano the ninety-ninth church built with his brother St. Julius, the church of San Lorenzo, where he was later buried.

Lido di Gozzano: is the modern name of the ancient site of Buccione, today a hamlet of Gozzano, from which the Bishops of Novara embarked for the island. Located on the shore of the lake, it offers a panoramic walk along the coast, and also the opportunity to relax on the beach. A few meters from the shore you can see the characteristic trampoline, designed in 1954 by architect Mario Galvagni.

Santa Maria di Luzzara: located along the road that connects Gozzano with San Maurizio d'Opaglio, on the western shore of the lake, this church, unfortunately open only on special occasions, preserves a precious cycle of 16th century frescoes. From the plateau on which the church rises, you can get down to the lake along a trail through the woods, and from there you can reach Lido di Gozzano or the beach of Pascolo, hamlet of San Maurizio d'Opaglio.

Borgomanero: situated a few miles south of the lake, with its 21,500 inhabitants it's the second largest city in the Province after the capital Novara. Don't miss the crowded street market on Fridays, held along the recently renovated historic center, taking the opportunity to admire the ancient church of San Leonardo decorated with 13th and 14th century frescoes (generally open to visitors only on Saturdays during spring and summer) and the parish of San Bartolomeo.

Mount Mottarone: mountain group that divides Lake Orta from Maggiore. From its top, located at 1,492 m, you can enjoy one of the most spectacular views of the Prealps, which includes the six lakes placed nearby (Orta, Maggiore, Monate, Mergozzo, Varese, Comabbio), and the entire Alpine arc from Monte Rosa to the Maritime Alps. Since the second half of the 19th century it has become a major ski resort during the winter season, favored by the proximity of Milan, and today it's still very popular thanks to the renewal of its lifts from 2001 onwards. In summer its gentle slopes allow peaceful and easy walks. A cableway connects Mount Mottarone with the town of Stresa, on Lake Maggiore.


The 16th century Palazzo della Comunità della Riviera, located in Piazza Motta at Orta San Giulio

One of the chapels of the Sacro Monte di Orta, recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003

Castle of Buccione with its impressive tower 23 m high (12th century)


The spectacular fireworks over the lake during the Festa di San Vito in Omegna

The lakeside promenade of Pella with the medieval tower

The church of Santa Maria di Luzzara under a blanket of snow



Lake Orta is located in a strategic area: besides visiting its immediate vicinity, you can use it as a base to move further.

Lake Maggiore is situated immediately to the east, and is definitely worth a visit: the city of Stresa with its elegant hotels, and the Borromean Islands with their treasures of art and nature are two must see, but if you have the opportunity you can also visit the other towns along the riviera, from Arona and Baveno to Verbania, Cannero and Cannobio. And if you want to go further, the Swiss border is only a few kilometers away.

Also the small Lake Mergozzo, formerly part of the Maggiore, with the characteristic town after which it takes its name, is just a few kilometers from Omegna and will welcome you for a pleasant day.

The big cities are well served by highway connections: Milan (Duomo, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, shopping) is just over an hour, traffic allowing (85 km); Turin (Egyptian Museum, Mole Antonelliana with the National Museum of Cinema) is about an hour and a half (125 km); also Genoa (historic center, old harbor, aquarium) can be reached in just over two hours (195 km).

The Alpine peaks are very near: the upper part of the lake is already in the Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, and a visit to Macugnaga in the beautiful setting of Monte Rosa, to Santa Maria Maggiore or to the other Ossola valleys, will offer you an unforgettable day. Only 35 km away, in the region north of Verbania, you can also find the National Park of Val Grande, established to protect the largest wilderness area in Italy, which gives you the possibility of hiking in an absolutely pristine nature.

The western shore of the lake separates Lake Orta from Valsesia, another very interesting mountain area. The town of Varallo is definitely worth a visit, with its quaint old town and the famous Sacro Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with that of Orta, which preserves precious decorations by Gaudenzio Ferrari. In July Varallo hosts the crowded Alpàa, exhibition and market of the local crafts and traditions, with internationally renowned musicians and gastronomic stands with the typical products of the valley.

Lovers of good wine (and good food) with a short trip can taste quality wines directly from the cellars of Boca, Ghemme or Gattinara, and continuing on the A26 highway Montferrat is just slightly further.


The beautiful gardens of Isola Bella, facing Stresa on Lake Maggiore

Monte Rosa seen from Macugnaga

The spectacular wall painted by Gaudenzio Ferrari in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie at Varallo (1513)


Panorama of Lake Maggiore from Mount Falò, near Mount Mottarone




There are numerous races organized throughout the year, for all tastes and all difficulties.


To better appreciate the nautical environment of Lake Orta.


The hills surrounding Lake Orta are the ideal place for long horse rides immersed in nature.


The nearby Sesia River is one of the best places in the world for rafting and canyoning.


Lake Orta is very close the Alps and there are numerous ski areas that allow you to practice all winter sports, from skiing to snowboarding


The nearby Mottarone is the ideal place for paragliding, and if you want you can also try the Lago Maggiore Zipline.


In Orta San Giulio the basilica and the Sacro Monte, in Ameno the Convent of the Franciscan Friars of Monte Mesma, on the western shore of the lake the sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso. And going further: the Sacro Monte of Varallo and Varese, the sanctuaries of Oropa, Boca and Re, the hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso on Lake Maggiore, the Sacra di San Michele in the Susa Valley, the Certosa of Pavia.




The Lake Orta District and its surroundings are rich of events for all tastes, all year round: fairs, festivals, cultural, musical and sport events. In this section we remind the most important, which have now become an annual meeting.

  • Sports: Snowshoeing Circuit "Ciaspolando tra laghi e monti" (January, February and March)
  • Start of winter and summer sales in all stores (January and July). For your shopping you could try the nearby Vicolungo Outlet
  • Fair: Borgosesia - Carnival (February)
  • Sports: Lago Maggiore Half Marathon (March)
  • Environment - Arts: Spring FAI Days (Italian Environment Fund, March)
  • Fair: Verbania - Exhibition of the Spring Camellia (March)
  • Fair: Cannero Riviera - Citrus Fair (March)
  • Fair: Orta San Giulio - Orta in bloom (April)
  • Fair: Masino Castle - Three days for your garden: market-exhibition of flowers and unusual plants (April)
  • Religion: Romagnano Sesia - Representation of the Good Friday (every two years, April)
  • Fair: Candelo - Candelo in bloom (May)
  • Music: Lake Orta - Un paese a sei corde (A six strings country, June, July, August and September)
  • Music: Ameno - Ameno Blues Festival (June and July)
  • Sport: Running - Lake Orta Night Run (June)
  • Sports: Swimming - Traverlonga (a swim across Lake Orta, June)
  • Fair - Music: Varallo - Alpàa (July)
  • Fair: Maggiora - Barrel race (July)
  • Music: Miasino - Miasino Classic Jazz Festival (August)
  • Fireworks: Lake District - Fireworks Festival (August)
  • Fair: Omegna - San Vito Fair (August)
  • Music: Orta San Giulio - Musical September (September)
  • Music: Veruno - Musical September: 2DAYS PROG +1 (International Prog Music Festival), Veruno Jazz and Veruno Classic (September)
  • Sports: Maggiora - Autocross European Championship (September)
  • Fair: Borgomanero - Festa dell'uva (Grapes Festival, September)
  • Fair: Masino Castle - Two days for fall: market-exhibition of flowers and unusual plants (October)
  • Sport: Running - Pella-Orta on Lake Orta (November)
  • Fair: Verbania - Exhibition of the Winter Camellia (December)
  • Religion: Postua - Exhibition of Nativity scenes (December)
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