Passeggiate Lago d'Orta

Five ways to discover Lake Orta

Passeggiate Lago d'Orta

Five ways to discover Lake Orta

Here are all the best itineraries on Lake Orta. Discover the natural and picturesque wonders of the area.

Lake Orta offers a wealth of natural and spectacular sights. Enjoy the beautiful scenery along one of the splendid walks and hiking trails dotting the area. So, let’s see which are the best trails and itineraries to discover the magic of Lake Orta.

From Orta San Giulio to Corconio

The first one starts from Orta San Giulio, in particular from Piazza Motta. Passing along Via Fava, walk on the shores of the lake on one side and gardens and parks on the other. At Villa Crespi you’ll come to Crociera and, after about 200 meters uphill, near the Santa Caterina hotel, take the narrow lane on the right, the Strada della Prisciola. This climbs up towards the sports field in Legro. After passing the railway underpass, turn right and continue until the end of the village. From here, you’ll head into the middle of the woods. When the paved road turns left and goes up towards Vacciago, go straight ahead on a slightly downhill dirt road; this is in fact the breathtaking panoramic trail offering a splendid view of Lake Orta, Monte Rosa and the Torre di Buccione. After about 90 minutes you’ll end up in Corconio. This route can be done either on foot or via mountain bike.

Girolago Anello Azzurro, connecting Orta with Pella

One of the most famous trails around Lake Orta is the Girolago Anello Azzurro, a series of trails linking some of the most beautiful villages in the area. Orta-Pella is one of such trails; it is about 14 kilometers long and connects the Sacro Monte in Orta with the small village of Pella. Starting from Sacro Monte, walk down along the regional road no. 229 towards Legro. Continue straight on after the station of Orta-Miasino along the Strada della Prisciola until you come to a dirt road heading towards the Santo Stefano church in Corconio. As you climb towards the cemetery in Corconio you’ll come across a provincial road; head downwards as far as the bridge over the railway and turn right. Just after the farmhouse, take the road that climbs up to the left.

After the Fonte Bersanella (fountain), you’ll end up on Via Artogno. Here, turn right at the stop sign and at the following one in Via Mario Motta, turn right again and continue until reaching Lido di Buccione. The small harbor on the Golfo di Buccione runs down along Via Fransisca, a dirt road. Skirting the lake, admire the natural surroundings. After about 2 kilometers, you’ll reach Cascina Fara on the right and on the left there’s a path towards the Chiesa della Madonna di Luzzara.

Going on, you’ll come to Pascolo, a small neighbourhood of San Maurizio d’Opaglio and, even further ahead, to Punta Casario. Walk along Villa Guadagnini and enjoy the view of Villa Castelnuovo. Continue on towards Lagna until you reach the provincial road no. 48. From here, turn right towards the village of Pella and, after passing Roncallo al Lago, you’ll finally reach the historic center of Pella.

Monte Cerano, the scenic trail

At 1,702 meters high, Monte Cerano provides a stunning panoramic vista of Lake Orta from where you can also marvel at Lake Maggiore, Valstrona and the Alps. From Omegna climb towards Valstrona to Germagno. At the start of the village, turn right and go on to the small church of Alpe Quaggione. From here, follow along on the asphalted road which finishes on the slopes of Monte Zuccaro. Then turn right following a well-marked path; you’ll first pass through a grove of beech trees and then continue along the ridge until you reach a junction. On the right you can go on as far as Alpe Pianello, while on the left you can continue to Morello and in the middle to Monte Cerano.

Borca-Crabbia-Agrano-Borca trail, immersed in nature

Park your car in Borca, near the church, then take the well-marked footpath just after the church and walk through a charming grove of chestnut and oak trees. Continue to the right, along a level road above the railway. After passing a few streams, you’ll reach the first homes in Crabbia. Before the church turn left; after a short paved stretch, the path leads again into the woods and ends in a pine forest. Follow the road to the cemetery of Agrano and, after passing it, take the provincial road down to the left. After a small bridge, take the path back into the woods on the left, go down for another 10 minutes and you’ll end up back on the initial path. This trail is about 7 kilometers long and takes about 3½ hours.

Alpe Quaggione, for experienced hikers

This demanding trail runs from Omegna to Alpe Quaggione, so be sure to be physically prepared. Once past the village of Crusinallo, turn towards Casale Corte Cerro. Follow for Gattugno, pass San Fermo and its sanctuary and follow on towards Montebuglio. After the village, the road climbs and there’s no time to rest. Just pass Alpe Rovelli, the crossing with Alpe Rusa and continue towards Alpe Quaggione on the right. The trail slopes considerably and even the most prepared athletes may find it tough. After more than 22 kilometers of hiking trails and 3 hours of walking, you’ll reach Alpe Quaggione. Keep going uphill on the left towards Fontanelle, where you’ll find an incredible view of Lake Orta.

Foto di Ethan Sees da Pexels


Miasino, a village between nobility and history.

Miasino and its rich history

Miasino is a town which partially oversees Lake Orta. Rich in history and more, Miasino is an unusual destination, but a very interesting one.

Discrete and elegant, the village emerges from the eastern coast of Lake Orta. Is a small village. The town counts less than 1,000 inhabitants. The heart of the city center is inside of a green false-plain which the mountains surround. We are talking about Miasino, a unique destination for those who visit Lake Orta. Miasino is a focal point for those who want to enjoy nature. 

One of its two districts, Carcegna, oversees the lake. The other one, Pisogno, sits on the slopes of Mount Formica. 

Its history

Despite its compact size and its closeness to more notorious places, like Orta San Giulio and Ameno, Miasino has very ancient origins. During the Middle Ages, Miasino was part of the great episcopal feudal property of the Riviera di San Giulio. 

Indeed, was a rich town during 1600 and 1700, and it was thanks to the presence of middle class and noble families. For this reason, the territory is full of residential houses. 

Moreover, vaunts ancient historical findings, which date back to the Iron Age. Moreover, archeologists found Etruscan heirloom, mostly pottery and earthenware in Campello

In other words, Miasino vaunts a double soul: a historic one and a noble one. And you should discover both. 

What to see

Among the main attractions, we find Church of San Rocco. Architect Francesco Maria Richino realized the project for the rebuilding of this church. The facade of the Church was finished in 1933, when Architect Carlo Nigra took over the project and decided to respect the original drawings. Inside the Church, one finds seventeen hundred marble altar, and important paintings and frescoes. One also finds precious Baroque and late-baroque work of art, which local artists realized. Miasino and its inhabitants have to thank several people who migrated to Milan and Tuscany for the Church’s interiors and its beauty. 

As a result, the Church was proclaimed a national monument. 

Another must-see is Villa Nigra. The mansion vaunts origins from 1500, but it was widened during the 17th and 18th century. Villa Nigra is one of the aristocratic villas, which is today a property of Miasino’s Municipality.

Finally, the Parish and Church of Pisogno, a district of Miasino, Chiesa di San Gottardo, vaunts a spectacular Baroque facade.

Photo by Marcotrovo on Flickr


Gozzano, the town where San Giuliano lies


Gozzano, on the traces of Saint Giuliano

Gozzano is a town by the southern coast of Lake Orta. Gozzano is rich in historical sites, which dates back to Romanesque times. 

Gozzano is a municipality that counts about 5,500 inhabitants. It sits close to the southernmost coast of Lake Orta. The toponym is curious: Gozzano originates from the Latin “Gaudianum”, which one can literally translate as “place of pleasure.” From the same root,  we find the surnames “Godi” and “Godio,” which are very popular in the whole area.  

Gozzano sits on some plain, which the hills of Valsesia and Stream Agogna surround. These landmarks also delimit the borders of the municipality.

Gozzano: the town’s history

We got to know who Saint Giulio was, and why Orta San Giulio – probably the most important center on Lake Orta- took his name. 

Gozzano’s history intertwines with that of Saint Giulio, as well. More precisely, the history of Gozzano relates to that of Saint Giulio’s brothers, Giuliano, who built the 90th house for Marian devotion together with his brother Giulio. This house was the Church of San Lorenzo, where the inhabitants of Gozzano buried Giuliano before the translation to the Basilica of San Giuliano

During the Middle Ages, Gozzano was divided into two city centers: the Villa (north-west) and the Vicus (south-east). The market square, which later became Piazza San Giuliano, divided these two districts. Between the Tenth and Eleventh century, the hill where Basilica di San Giuliano sits became a fort and then a castle. We find it mentioned for the first time in 1015.

What to see in Gozzano

As we understood, Gozzano is rich in important historical and spiritual sites. First, we find the Church of San Lorenzo, which is south to the urban settlement. San Giulio and San Giuliano founded the Church, according to tradition. 

Recent archeological findings confirmed the hagiographical narrative: indeed, archeologists discovered the foundation of an early Christian Church. They think the Church was built between the end of the fifth century and the beginning of the sixth century. The church sits on what was a very revered burial site, which archeologist identified with that of Saint Giuliano. 

From the eight century, the Church of San Lorenzo started a long period of decline, which reached its climax in the transferring of the relics of Saint Giuliano from there to a newly-founded Church, which was inside the city center. 

In 1141, Novara’s bishop entrusted this latter Church to a group of laics, so that they could restore it. However, at that time citizens  had already lost memory about San Giuliano. Therefore, they dedicated the Church to Saint Lorenzo, the martyr. 

The current Basilica of San Giuliano dates back to the first decades of the 18th century. On the interior, we find two big canvas where scenes of the life of San Giuliano are present. 

A must-see in Gozzano is the Church of Madonna Del Boggio, outside the city center. If you are in Gozzano, you should also visit the Church of Santa Maria di Luzzara, with its frescos that date back to the 15th and the 16th century, the Church of San Biagio and the Church of Purificazione di Maria Vergine, in Alzate and Bugnate.

Photo by frank28883 on Flickr


Pettenasco, a Corner of the Middle Ages on Lake Orta


Pettenasco: History and Activities of this village on Lake Orta 

A Piedmontese Village on Lake d’Orta, whose History is Important and Where Is Possible to Practice Several Different Activities.

Pettenasco is a village in the area of Novara, in Piedmont, overlooking Lake Orta. Precisely, this village is located in-between Orta San Giulio and Omegna. Despite being a small municipality, Pettenasco vaunts significant historical roots and activities that are suitable for any tourist. North to the Medieval Village, then, you find Punta Crabbia, one of the most famous promontories in the area. There, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Lake from Omegna to Orta. 


With its 1376 inhabitants, Pettenasco history dates back to the Ancient Romans. This latter could dominate this territory in the past, as some graves present in the area testify. The hypothesis of the Roman presence finds its justification in the legend of Saint Giulio’s life, which tells the story of prefect Audentius, who lived in this area around the 4th century A.D.

The Middle Ages is the historical era that has impacted the history of Pettenasco the most. It is still possible to find several dwellings of that time, presenting stone portals engraved with several decorations. Among these dwellings, the mansion which is best-preserved is the Casa Medioevale (Medieval House), at Piazza Unità d’Italia.  The cultural association Pro Loco Pettenasco Nostra manages Casa Medievale. The organization offers exhibitions, concerts, and kermesse reunions in the court and rooms of Casa Medioevale.

What to See and Do? 

Besides the remains of Saint Audentius Church and the Parish of Saint Audentius and Catherine, windmills are worth visiting when in Pettenasco. These latter represent the agricultural nature that the town had in the past, as they were used to grind flour. 

Later, windmills turned into hydraulic plumbings used by woodturners to manufacture crafts to sell: this activity lasted until the end of the fifties. Today, these woodturners and, in particular, the one on the Roggia Molinara welcomes the Museum on the Art of Woodturning, where one can admire the tools of the trade.  

Concerning the activities that Pettenasco offers for tourists, they can choose among several beaches on the lake. If you want to relax in nature by the Passeggiata del Lungolago (Lakeside promenade), the best beaches are: 

  • Approdo beach;
  • Dolphin’s beach;
  • Riva Pisola beach;

Sports lovers can engage in various hiking trails and, in particular, those of Mount Barro and the Anello Azzurro (Blue Ring). Pettenasco and its surroundings host the Lake Orta Wine Festival, which is the most important wine festival in the district.  The event promotes local wines and their tasting, and it usually takes place during the second week of September.

Photo by mauromilani19 on Flickr

Isola di san Giulio

Who was San Giulio d'Orta?

Life and Works of San Giulio d’Orta

Isola di san Giulio

San Giulio d’Orta (Saint Julius) and San Giuliano (Saint Julian) were two brothers from a small Greek island. During their lifetime they built 100 churches and fought against dragons and snakes.

Aegina is a small island about 50 km from Athens. In the 4th Century, two brothers of Aegina, Julius and Julian, arrived on the shores of Lake Orta with the task of evangelizing the pagans and building churches. The Emperor Theodosius entrusted them with this responsibility and commissioned the brothers to physically destroy pagan altars and heathen woodlands as well as building churches in their place.

When they arrived in Italy, St. Julius and St. Julian lived for a period in Aqua Salvia, near Rome, then crossed Lazio and arrived in northern Italy without stopping their preaching, conversion and especially the construction of churches.

The number of churches erected by the two Greek brothers quickly rose and reached a remarkable total of 98 sites.

San Giulio and Lake Orta

As always, as we venture into the lives of the Saints, it is difficult to separate historical truth from stories and legends. Focusing on the latter, Julius would have left his brother with the task of building the ninety-ninth church in Gozzano, while he would go looking alone for the place where the hundredth would be built. The Saint is said to have chosen a delightful little island – as if he was able to « square the circle » (he left an island and returned to an island) – to be the ideal spot to build the 100th church. Since no one was willing to take him to the area he sought, Julius is said to have stretched his cloak over the waters of the lake, and travelled to it. On the island Julius fought dragons and snakes, freeing the island from pagan coils and laying the foundations of the church on the same spot where the Basilica di San Giulio is located today.

His life – truth or legend?

When reading about dragons, invading snakes, cloaks which float and carry, it would be easy to define it all as a « legend ». But things would seem a bit more complex. In fact, at least two of the more than 100 churches believed to have been built by Julius and Julian of Aegina have been proven to be of Paleo-Christian origin. Where? Right in Gozzano and on the island of San Giulio. Archaeological excavations carried out in the Basilica di San Giulio and in the San Lorenzo Church in Gozzano can confirm the hypothesis the « legend » of the two Saints actually entails different historical elements. On San Giulio, research has revealed traces of a primitive basilica (V-VI century) in the form of a small chapel with a single apse facing north.

The relics

The relics of St. Julius are still preserved in the Basilica di San Giulio, on the island of San Giulio, in the middle of Lake Orta. Julian’s relics, on the other hand, were moved in 1360 to the new church in Gozzano, dedicated to him, and placed under the high altar, whereas in the old church of S. Lorenzo there is still the cenotaph, or rather, a sepulchral monument without the human remains of the individual for whom it was built.

San Giulio (Saint Julius) is the patron saint of bricklayers, thanks to his activity as a church builder and is often portrayed with tools in hand.

photo credits: elparainbow from – license