The famous island of San Giulio is situated in the middle of the Lake Orta, opposite the village of Orta San Giulio. Named after a local patron saint, Julius of Novara, the island's interesting history is surrounded in myth, with legend telling of a dangerous serpent that lived on the island and terrorised local villages until they were saved by the saint. It is said Saint Julius arrived on his cloak and guided a storm to banish the monster. Then, tired and close to death, he chose the island to build his final church (rumoured to be his 100th) where he was later laid to rest.
In 1976, the basilica di San Giulio was transformed into a monastery, now home to the largest population of closed Benedictine nuns in the world. Visitors can take in its charming history by following the 'walk of silence', a route around the island that is mapped out by quotes offering thoughts on the meaning of silence; the perfect way to enjoy and appreciate the surrounding views. In addition to the monastery and church the island also houses a scattering of private residences and a restaurant.
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