Lake Orta and Orta San Giulio, Italy
Above: Orta San Giulio. Markus Bernet / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0
By Stephanie M. Chambers
Lake Orta, one of the most romantic of the Northern Italian Lakes, was the source of inspiration to poets, writers and philosophers, including Browning, Balzac, and Nietzsche. The small town of Orta San Giulio, with its handmade pasta and chocolate shops, lies on a peninsula jutting into the lake. Its steep, narrow, cobbled streets are lined with shuttered houses in pastel tones that offer charming views of the island of San Giulio. Isola San Giulio was named after a priest, reputed to have scared away a huge serpent, which ruled the island. There he constructed a church and monastery and is supposed to have walked on the lake, maybe in winter, when others walked on it as well.