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Lake Orta is much less famous than the neighbour Lake Maggiore, but it's at least as amazing.
For a kayaking trip it is a perfect destination: the water is
calm and clean, the traffic of ferries and other boats is very light, the most interesting destinations are within easy reach of each other.
So you just have to go and enjoy it! Omegna, Orta San Giulio and the island of San Giulio, Pella, Ronco...
really interesting destinations that become amazing when visit by kayak (thus solving also any parking problems!).
Under the map,
we present a guide to the Lake Orta, starting from our last experience of circumnavigation by kayak.
The kayaking itinerary
The Lake Orta is 13 km long and about 1 km wide: therefore, its coasts may be visited in only one day.
However, we preferred a shorter itinerary (10 kms totally) to have a more touristic approach, visiting the villages we met without rushing too much.
Before starting to paddle we also had a look at Omegna, a nice town in the northernmost point of the lake which is crossed
by the emissary of Lake Orta (which is surprising, because in the other Italian alpine lakes the waters flow southwards).
For the kayaking trip, we decided to start near Orta San Giulio (a little bit far from the town center to avoid paying
a parking fee). As you see from the map, the starting point was a small beach to the north-east of the peninsula on which
Orta San Giulio lies peacefully. After a refreshing dip (that day was very hot and the water had a perfect temperature), aboard our
inflatable kayak we reached the first houses on the lake. Orta San Giulio appeared slowly, behind reeds and poplars,
with old houses, stone garages for boats and rafts, magnificent colorful villas and historical monuments.
We moored the kayak in the main square of Orta San Giulio, whose historic buildings look out over the lake.
We walked aroun town, admiring the narrow alleys and the painted houses. Since we had never heard of that city
until a few days before, we were stunned by its beauty: we liked it more than the famous towns on Lake Maggiore
such as Stresa. There were some groups of tourists but the beauty of the town was still intact.
After we had an ice cream we were almost reluctant when we left by kayak, as we could have spent more time in Orta San Giulio.
Luckily, we were heading towards the Island of San Giulio (300 metres offshore), with its monastery and its villas that rise from the lake.
Similar in concept to the Borromeo islands on Lake Maggiore, San Giulio Island is incredibly peaceful.
No visitors (at least when we reached it by kayak, which obviously has many advantages over a sightseeing tour)
many flower gardens and millennial buildings. We walked around the island, then, further offshore, we swam admiring Lake Orta...
a great moment.
Our idea was to paddle to the other side of Lake Orta, so from the island we reached Pella, which turned out to be a peaceful
jewel with a lakeside promenade, trees, old houses, quiet streets and a few sailboats moored. Near the village
there was a small beach, behind it steep hills with thick woods. We had some food and we resumed paddling.
We went north, towards Omegna, following the western coast of Lake Orta. Here the landscape is idyllic,
absolute peace and nature, the shadow of the trees over the lake and the still water that gently touches the rocks.
It was so peaceful that you could fall asleep on the paddle. Luckily we reached Ronco, another hidden gem: a tiny
hamlet of old houses that rise from the lake to the nearest hills.
At this point we were in doubt whether to continue along the coast to Omegna - this stretch of coast looked lush and green but
it didn't seem to offer any special attractions - or to cut to the other side of the lake and paddle back to the car. We decided
for the latter, also because when in Omegna we would have had either to catch a bus or to continue paddling in order
to reach the car.
So we quickly crossed the calm waters and then, coasting Pettenasco and the eastern side of Lake Orta (this part
is less interesting than what we had previously seen), we arrived at the beach where our kayaking trip had started.
We had another pleasant and refreshing dip, only partly disturbed by the sight of a water snake
that moved sinuously on the surface of the lake.
Lake Orta is a place that remains in the heart thanks to its peace, its landscapes, its amazing architectures... we were proud
of our endeavour. It had been a great idea to leave the chaotic Lake Maggiore and to visit an idyllic lake
where for a beer in a panoramic position you spent 3 Euros instead of 6.
Obviously, kayaking is the best way to visit Lake Orta, especially because it allows exploring
San Giulio island at its best.
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You can find more photos (with higher resolution) of the kayaking trip on Lake Orta in this photogallery:
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