Lake Orta, the muse of saints and writers.
“A lovely little lake, under Monte Rosa, with its island set in the midst of quiet waters, coquettish and simple”. It is difficult to better the words of Balzac in describing Lake Orta, the smallest of those in the Prealps. The muse of writers and poets, it is located at the foot of the Monte Rosa range in a place where nature is truly let loose.
The 40-kilometre stretch of road that hugs the lake offers everything a rider might want from the classic Sunday ride: a wonderful view, the right dose of twists and turns and some traditional villages in which to take a break. One must-see is Orta San Giulio with its fifteenth and sixteenth century baroque-style buildings, narrow lanes and churches. If you need a good reason to park your bike, then San Giulio island is that reason. Legend has it that this was once a rock inhabited by monsters and serpents, chosen by saint Giulio as the site for his church. Today this tiny island, just 275 metres in length, is home to memorable buildings such as the cathedral and Mater Ecclesiae Benedictine Monastery. Once back on the mainland, the choice is yours: if the weather permits, you might head to Bagnara beach for an energizing dip or head off to discover the medieval village of Pella. Those who prefer to stay in the saddle and enjoy the lake from above might climb to the evocative Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso or aim for the summit of the famous Mottarone.