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Orta San Giulio, among the most beautiful villages in Italy

On the trail of dragons

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Where is


28016 Orta San Giulio NO, Italia (323m s.l.m.)


What it is and where it is

Orta San Giulio is one of Italy's most beautiful villages in eastern Piedmont. Over the centuries, the village has preserved its genuine appearance as an elegant lakeside resort. The town's main square overlooks the Island of San Giulio, its hamlet and the only island on Lake Orta. Legends of saints and dragons are linked to this extraordinary area.

Why it is special

Narrow alleys that suddenly open onto the lake or onto small and large courtyards and small squares. The passage of centuries can be perfectly traced in the beautiful stone-roofed houses, the many churches and oratories, the facades of the houses with their characteristic little balconies and masterfully crafted iron gates. Absolutely a special village, all to be discovered.

Not to be missed

Not to be missed is a visit to the Island of San Giulio. A small lake island whose ring-shaped path can be completed on foot in less than twenty minutes. Very rich in history and ancient architecture. On the island you can visit one of the most beautiful Romanesque basilicas in Piedmont, dedicated to the saint who gives his name to the lake, the village and the island: San Giulio.

A bit of history

The Orta Riviera is historically known for having maintained its independence for centuries, from the 13th until the 18th century. Located in that area of eastern Piedmont that politically belonged to Lombardy, the territories of Lake Orta belonged to the Novarese episcopate, a true episcopal principality, from 1219 to 1767. The history of these places is extremely fascinating, and evidence of an illustrious past can be found as much in the urban fabric of the village itself as on the Island.


The Island of St. Julius is linked to the legend of dragons and snakes that the evangelizing saint Julius, upon his arrival in these lands at the end of the fourth century, is said to have chased away, finally ridding the island of this dreadful infestation before building his hundredth and last church there. Also on the island, in the sacristy of the basilica now named after St. Julius, is preserved a giant vertebra, believed for centuries to be the vertebra of a dragon.

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Recommended by
Guida Turistica Novara

In addition to being counted among the most beautiful villages in Italy, Orta San Giulio is a well-known tourist destination in eastern Piedmont. It overlooks Lake Orta, the westernmost of the pre-Alpine lakes totally within Piedmont territory.


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