While staying in the mountains northwest of Milano in Campello Monti, one day we took a short drive down to Lago d’Orta. For most people traveling to see the lakes in northern Italy, they opt for the famous Lago di Como, but this choice is less fussy, less expensive, and full of so much beauty and charm.
The lakeside town of Orta San Giulio has picturesque alleys full of medieval architecture that open up to amazing views of the glistening, blue lake. The private ville along the shore of the water, equipped with their own ivy-lined garage for their fancy boats seems like the perfect setting for a James Bond film. There are plenty of ristoranti to choose from for a quiet lunch, or better yet, gelaterie where you can get a delicious scoop of your favorite flavor of gelato and take it with you as you enjoy a relaxing passeggiata through the town.
Isola San Guilio is the small, quiet, and peaceful island in the middle of the lake and home to a famous monastery. You can take a water taxi that runs about every 15-30 minutes from Orta San Gulio to the island and back again for only a few euro per person. We spent about an hour taking a nice walk around the island that is full of so much character and romance. In the heat of the summer, we decided we had to cool off by dipping our feet in the water for a bit, too.
Lago d’Orta makes the perfect day trip from the Milano area—perfect for relaxing lunches, strolls, and amazing views.