Located at the end of a hilly promontory which gently slopes towards the shores of the lake, the hamlet of Orta rises in front of the Isola San Giulio (patron saint of the village) and is located in the middle of the eastern shore of this small smooth lake, which is inherently a little jewel. The crest of the municipality bears the inscription Hortus conclusus (closed garden), from which the name Orta derives. This small miracle is completely pedestrian and retains the timeless charm of the medieval villages, characterized by picturesque alleys that run above and below the main street, parallel to the lake.
Under it many alleys descend to meet the shores of the lake, while others above it, go back steeply towards the Sacro Monte di Orta (UNESCO World Heritage), considered by Nietzsche "one of the most evocative places in the world".
At the center of the town you will find Piazza Motta, pulsating heart of the life of the village, from which the connections for the Island of San Giulio begin; it overlooks the Broletto or Palace of the Community (on the facade you can admire the city crest), in which in the Middle Ages the power was exercised. In front of the Broletto begins an uphill road called 'Motta' from which you reach the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta (1485). On the road there are some historical buildings, including Palazzo Gemelli and Palazzo De Penotti Fortis. On the opposite side of Piazza Motta instead, the visitor will be enraptured by a marvelous area which opens out onto the lake. There is a small jetty and shortly after (about 400 meters from the shore), that little jewel that is the island of San Giulio will open out in front of your eyes. The small island seems to float on the water edge and is dominated by the building of the former seminary that today hosts the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery of Benedictine nuns. On the island there is also the Basilica of San Giulio, the most important church in Romanic style of the area. Lastly, the village of Orta comprises numerous districts, as for example the Moccarolo, that follows the banks of the lake towards the south, and definitely deserves a walk in it. In this handful of alleys you will follow the ancient houses of the fishermen and craftsmen and villas with gardens overlooking the lake. One of these is Villa Motta. Built in the second half of the nineteenth century, in addition to housing a wonderful garden that gives its incomparable views over the lake and the Island of San Giulio, competes with Sacro Monte for the title of more evocative panoramic point of the whole village.
Municipality of Orta San Giulio
Province of Novara
Center altitude: 294 m s.l.m.
the Municipality is part of:
I Borghi più belli d’Italia
Paesi Bandiera Arancione
Patrimonio dell’Umanità Unesco per il Sacro Monte
Via Bossi, 11 - tel: 0322911972
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