The Sacro Monte di San Francesco is a pilgrim route devoted to St Francis of Assisi, on Lake Orta’s eastern shore. This UNESCO World Heritage site has wonderful views across the lake, and along the pathway are twenty-one chapels containing colourful, vibrant frescoes which depict the life of the famous saint. They were constructed between 1591 and 1750 and encompass a range of architectural styles from Baroque to Renaissance. In all, there are no fewer than 900 frescoes and 376 sculptures, recreating the tumultuous life and times of St Francis. Art lovers, historians and contemplative individuals come here from all over the world to drink in the views and breathe the fresh air. It’s a place for meditation and relaxation, and speaking of drinking there’s a fine restaurant beside the church of St Nicholas with great views across the lake – just the place to refresh with an iced tea or something stronger.
Eastern shore of Lake Orta in the Italian Lakes (Piedmont & Lombardy).
Google map: bit.ly/MbaCYy
To say that the Italian lakes are picturesque is a mighty understatement, but if you can imagine that the essence of the beauty and romance of all of the lakes could all be condensed into one small town by the side of one of the smallest lakes, then you can begin to conjure up a picture of Orta San Giulio.
Whilst many of the popular resorts on larger lakes suffer traffic problems, cars are banned from the streets of Orta San Giulio, indeed many of the streets are too narrow for anything other than scooters. Day visitors and residents alike have walk down medieval streets and alleyways, which all lead to the main square and the stunning view across to Isola San Giulio.
www.ortasangiulio.com (in Italian)
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