Orta lake, where Nietzsche fell in love, known locally as Cusio, is a pre-Alpine lake located near Verbano-Cusio-Ossola. Mount Mattarone and the mountains of Valstrona and Valsesia form the background. We are talking about a very fascinating lake not only for the picturesque villages that overlook it but also for the landscapes that have inspired writers and painters over the centuries. Here is the reason why organize a weekend to discover this beautiful lake. 

Lake Orta | lake, Italy | Britannica


The ancient and picturesque village of Orta in San Giulio is located on the edge, almost like tuff, from the end of a promontory towards the waters of Lake Orta. A romantic landscape, with the lake far from the background to the roofs of the historic center and the backdrop to the island of San Giulio. The first step for a romantic tour with the better half is definitely Piazza Motta, home of the traditional Wednesday market and other cultural events. Continuing, even on foot there are some alleys that climb up from the square for sale towards the Sacro Monte di Orta, a place that Nietzsche did not hesitate to define among the “most suggestive in the world”. 

The itinerary continues towards the Sacro Monte di Orta Nature Reserve. It is a special place that dominates the town and is divided into two areas, the natural and the sacred one, following a route of 20 chapels dedicated to a Saint Francis. We open and close a parenthesis: if you are here, enter a small restaurant, to taste a plate of tapolon (a typical dish of Valsesia made with donkey meat) and a good glass of Novara ghemme in one of the many restaurants. After lunch, dedicate the afternoon to visiting the enchanting Island of San Giulio, which is reached after a short boat trip. The island owes its name to San Giulio and his brother Giuliano who arrived here at the end of the fourth century. From the lawn where the boats land, you follow a path along which buildings, courtyards, shops and restaurants alternate. Dominating the island is the Romanesque basilica headed to San Giulio, where the remains of the saint are kept. 


On the last day of rest, embark on a visit to the village of Omegna, the birthplace of Gianni Rodari. Apparently not fascinating, to get passionate about Omegna also go into the town, walk along the Nigoglia canal and get to the Fantasy Park, a place designed for children. Finally, don’t forget to take a trip to the characteristic village of Pella.

By Njord