The city of Orta San Giulio is a beautiful and breathtaking town situated the end of a headland facing the small enchanting island Isola di San Giulio. The city offers everything the discerning traveller could need in a historic town on the banks of one of Italy's most enchanting lakes.
From the town square Piazza Motta in the middle of the medieval centre you will find cafes with outdoor seating, small specialty shops, the small town train "Trenino di Orta" and a small boat dock with a boat service to Isola di San Giulio. In this market place you will also find loggia'en Palazzotto from 1582, which served as a sort of town hall for the area at the time. The old town of Orta San Giulio is a delightful mixture of small alleys with glimpses of the lake and an omnipresent historical spirit. The town's market day is Wednesday.
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In Via Olina, which runs among the medieval buildings and parallel with the like, one can find several delicatessens - among them you should definitely indulge yourself with a visit to the well-stocked and well-appointed cafe and confectioners Idea Dolce (Via Olina 7), which is open all year round. The owner Barbara offers a warm welcome and a friendly atmosphere in this delicatessen and it stands out from the rest due to its decor which is a mixture between a traditional store and a modern cafe with tasteful and fashionable packaging.
Above the town is the green area Sacro Monte di San Francesco (can be reached on foot or by "Trenino di Orta"), which since 2003 has been included in UNESCO's list of special sites of heritage. Here, amidst old trees and an atmosphere that takes you back to ancient times, one can visit around 20 chapels dating back to as early as 1590, all of which are dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi.
The area around Lake Orta is recommended for cyclists, it is hilly and challenging without being too mountainous. Unfortunately there are no bike rental shops on the lake, however, just south around 12km away in Borgomanero there are around 4 places that sell and hire bikes.