Orta San Giulio is very old town, on the list of the most beautiful italian towns, and is situated on the eastern shores of Lake Orta in front of the exquisite isle of St Giulio.

Backing it are the slopes of Sacro Monte on which the houses rise. The centre is a warren of tiny cobbled streets, pedestrian only, that descend steeply to the little port past Renaissance and Baroque palaces and fine houses with their loggias, the gardens of which may often be glimpsed.

The heart of the town is Piazza Motta, the square with porticoes on three sides below the buildings, its fourth side open to the lake. Very striking is the Palazzo della Comunità della Riviera o Broletto (1582), near one side of the square, a symbol of the independent government that for so long characterized this community.

Up the hill from the square is the church of St Maria Assunta, often chosen by tourists as well as locals for romantic weddings, and higher still is Sacro Monte, one of the most “enchanting places in the world,” according to Nietszche.