One of the most beautiful villages in Italy , Orta San Giulio is located on Lake Orta in the province of Novara. The historic center, completely pedestrianized, surprises for the narrow and picturesque streets that often lead to panoramic points. This place was chosen as the location for Giuseppe Tornatore’s film “La Correspondence” and for gourmet restaurants, for example “Villa Crespi” by Antonino Cannavacciuolo which here delights the palates with its starred dishes.
Right in the lake, in front of Orta San Giulio, stands the Island of San Giulio : it is so perfect that it looks like a picture painted by the skilled hands of a painter!
In just 275 meters wide and 140 meters longit contains many beauties and manages to enchant from any side you look at it. Numerous ferries leave from the mainland to reach the island, which is located just under 500 meters from Orta. Let’s see, below, all the information you need to spend an enchanting journey in this wonderful jewel of our Italy.

Where is

Orta San Giulio is located in Piedmont , on the eastern shore of Lake Orta, about 45 km from the capital Novara. The inhabited nucleus rises mainly on the shore of the lake in front of the island of San Giulio, which is part of the municipal territory.

How to get to Orta San Giulio
The airport of reference is that of Milan – Malpensawhich is 42 km from Orta San Giulio. Here are the different solutions to reach it by car, train and bus.

  • By car : by car you can take the A26 with the Gravellona Toce exit (direction Omegna), Borgomanero or Arona. From Turin it is 1 hour 30 minutes, from Milan 1 hour and 20 and from Como about an hour – Get directions
  • By train : the reference station is Orta – Miasino on the Novara – Domodossola line.
    Starting from Como it takes 3 hours (2 – 3 changes) with a cost of € 12.00.
    From Milan there are 2 hours (1 change) with tickets starting from € 9.00.
    From Turin the travel time is 2 hours and 20 minutes, always with a change, for € 10.00.
  • By bus : the Fontaneto buses cover the Stresa-Armeno-Orta and Stresa-Gignese-Orta route, while Comazzi the Arona-Borgomanero-Omegna route. You can find all the information on bus timetables.
    From Como the journey time by bus is one hour for 83 km;
    From Turin it is 126 km for an hour and twenty;
    From Milan 84 Km for an hour.

How to get to Isola San Giulio
Photo by Vito Mandina. If you arrive by train or bus , once you arrive at the Orta – Miasino station you have to walk about 2 km to reach the Orta San Giulio pier, located in Piazza Motta.

If you are by car , leave it in one of the parking areas and then you can decide where to board: from Orta San Giulio, the departure and from Piazza Motta, while from the west shore of the lake you can take the ferry from Pella, San Filiberto or Lagna ( not far away there are the parking areas).

  • Ferry cost : € 3.15 round trip
  • Journey time : 5 minutes
  • Embarkation address :
    Orta -Imbarcadero Orta San Giulio, Piazza Motta Get directions
    Pella – Imbarcadero Pella, Piazza Motta Get directions
    Lagna – Imbarcadero Lagna, via al Porto Get directions

What to see
Orta and the island of San Giulio are very small but splendid territories, so there is certainly no shortage of things to see. In addition to strolling through the charming streets, there are elegant villas and churches not to be missed, so below I suggest what to see both in Orta San Giulio and its surroundings and on the island of San Giulio .

What to see on the
island of San Giulio According to legend, the island of San Giulio was freed from snakes and monsters by San Giulio, who founded a church there. Before it was an important strategic and administrative center, then the activities all moved to Orta and the island remained (and still is today) the seat of the Benedictine abbey of the cloistered nuns. Here we also find homes, mostly second homes.

  1. Basilica of San Giulio , is the main attraction and here the remains of the saint are preserved. Built in Baroque Romanesque style, it has several very interesting works and frescoes inside.
  2. Way of silence and meditation : from the Basilica you take a small road on the perimeter of the island where you can see small shops, a restaurant, palaces, villas and gardens in a relaxing silence.
  3. Benedictine Abbey Mater Ecclesiae : in the heart of the island stands the monastery (which cannot be visited inside) with inside the cloistered nuns who dedicate themselves to various activities, including the preparation of the “bread of San Giulio”.

What to see in Borgo Orta San Giulio
Photo by Vito Mandina. The very refined village of Orta San Giulio is made up of beautiful nineteenth-century buildings, incredible villas and picturesque streets. There is no shortage of attractions in the surrounding area as well: take paper, pen and write down these suggestions!

  1. Sacro Monte D’Orta , located in the hilly area overlooking the village, and dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. There is a path of 20 chapels that lead to the final chapel, where you can enjoy an amazing view of the city and of Orta San Giulio.
  2. Piazza Motta , a Renaissance lounge where you can enjoy an aperitif or dinner while enjoying the view of Lake Orta.
  3. Palazzo della Comunita , with the suggestive bell tower.
  4. Villa Bossi , current seat of the municipality with a garden from which you can admire splendid scenery.
  5. Parish of Santa Maria Assunta : inside you can find numerous paintings by Rossetti and Cantalupi, and other works from the 17th and 18th centuries.

What to see in the surroundings
Photo by Vito Mandina.

  1. Omegna : a small village north of Orta San Giulio, and crossed by the Nigoglia canal along which you can take a pleasant walk up to the Parco della Fantasia, a space designed for children in honor of Gianni Rodari, who spent his early life.
  2. Pella , located on the opposite bank of Orta San Giulio, is a small town that contains many wonders. From here you can see the lake from a magnificent perspective.
  3. Ameno : of ancient origins, and located on the eastern shore of Lake Orta and surrounded by greenery. Here there are churches, monuments, palaces and practically a balcony overlooking the lake.

Where to Eat
Where to eat on the island of San Giulio and in Orta
The restaurants are not numerous and there is only one on the island, but they are certainly particularly spectacular and there is no shortage of typical Piedmontese dishes, both meat and fish. Many, almost all, offer tasting menus from appetizers to desserts (generally with drinks not included) which cost around € 30.00.

Restaurants on the Island of San Giulio

  1. San Giulio Restaurant : specialties and delicious dishes are served in the only restaurant on the island, in the evocative setting of the 18th century dining room and on the panoramic terrace overlooking the lake.
    Prices: around € 45.00 per person
    Tel: 3496893436
    Address: Via Basilica, 4 – Orta San Giulio (NO) – Get directions

Restaurants in Orta San Giulio

  1. Locanda di Orta Restaurant : charming and refined location, with excellent dishes and an extensive wine list with over 600 national labels. 1 Michelin star. The prices are high, adequate to the level of the restaurant.
    Prices: starting from € 70.00 per
    person Tel: 0322905188
    Address: Via Olina, 18 – Orta San Giulio (limited traffic area) – Get directions
  2. The wooden spoon : we use high quality products that the farm itself produces. The seasonality of the products is respected, to let you taste delicious dishes on a beautiful culinary journey.
    Prices: from € 40.00 per person
    Tel: 0322905280
    Address: Via Prisciola, 10 – Orta San Giulio – Get directions
  3. La Motta Restaurant and Bistrot : located in the heart of Orta, a few steps from Piazza Motta. The lunch menu always proposes a new dish, in the evening instead we indulge ourselves with artistic dishes obtained with local and high quality products, much sought after.
    Prices: from € 30.00 per person
    Tel: 0322905049
    Address: Via Caire Albertoletti, 13 – Orta San Giulio – Get directions
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