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Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Near byLake Maggiorein the foothills of the Alps,Lake Ortais a tranquil, often misty vision of scenic charm. Of the villages and tiny market towns that sit comfortably on its green, wooded hillside banks,Orta townis the prettiest and one of the oldest. It lies on the end of a promontory opposite the intriguing island 400 m offshore on which much of its reputation rests. Isola San Giuliois tiny – only 275 m long and 140 m wide, but crowded with buildings, towers and terraces. There areBenedictine monasteryand seminary, the castle andBishop’s Palace. But the largest building on the island is in fact theBasilica of St Giulio. When you arrive on the island,San Giulio’s beauty is magnificent with unexpected quiet. The short circular lane between the monastery and the sumptuous 18th century private villas lining the shore is even called ‘The way of Silence‘ and dotted with signs admonishing you to ‘Listen to the water, the wind, your steps’, ‘If you can be yourself, you are everything’.When to go:Year round. Come for the festival of Ancient Music at the Villa Tallone during June, or the piano recitals on Sundays in September.Population:110.How to get there:By ferry from Orta San Giulio, Omegna, Pella or any of the other lakeside villages