PWk: Prod, Tlk: GS2, Datacash: Live
Lake Orta is the smallest of the Italian Lakes, and has stayed off the tourist radar for decades, helping it to remain one of the most untouched of the great lakes. It’s by no means small though, boasting an area still considerably larger than England’s largest lake, with plenty to see and explore.
Orta San Giulio is the lake’s biggest talking point – a pretty lakeside town full of cafes and pastel buildings. The picturesque streets aren’t the only reason to visit Orta San Giulio though; it’s also the closest point to the lake’s largest island, Isola San Giulio.
Another gem is Pettenasco, a beautiful little collection of medieval buildings clustered around a tiny harbour. Omegna, at the lake’s northern tip, boasts a quaint historic centre and another great day-trip option. For those wanting to explore further afield, Lake Maggiore is just 12 miles away.
With a peaceful island and a handful of elegant waterside towns, Lake Orta is fairly low-key when it comes to activities and attractions. There’s the beautiful islet of San Giulio, where a mysterious monastery and unique ‘Walk of Silence’ trail can be found, as well as the peaceful towns of Pettenasco and Orta San Giulio, the latter of which is best known for being home to the UNESCO-protected Orta Sacro Monte – a collection of centuries-old chapels. Journey further afield, and you’ll find Lake Maggiore in easy reach, with the shortest journey between both lakes being little more than a 15-minute drive. The beautiful city of Turin is also well worth a visit – it’s around 75 miles away.
The closest airport to Lake Orta is Milan Malpensa (MXP). Direct flights to Milan are available from Birmingham, Edinburgh, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton and Manchester and take approximately 2 hours.
Lake Orta is a summer destination, with the season generally running from April to October. Temperatures are at their hottest in July and August and this is when Orta is at its busiest. The climate in the spring and autumn is still warm which makes it perfect for visiting at the beginning or end of season too. For those who want to avoid the busiest crowds but still enjoy warm temperatures, May, June and September are ideal months to visit.
Lake Orta may be one of Italy’s smaller lakes, but those who enjoy fine dining need not look far. Al Sorriso is a family-run restaurant that’s been awarded three Michelin stars, blending tradition and innovation with top service. For those wanting to try something a bit different, pasta with donkey or horse meat is a speciality of the area.
Located within the Piedmont region, this area mostly produces red wines created from the Nebbiolo grape. The most popular varieties to try include Barolo and Barbaresco.