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Lake Orta is the most western pre-Alps lakes, located in the northern Italy between the provinces of Novara and Verbano-Cusio-Ossola. Long 13 km and wide at most 2, with a perimeter of ca. 35 km, deep 143 m, is located at an altitude of 290 m.
The two sides appear quite different: more steep and rugged the western shores, with mountains that separate the lake from the Sesia Valley; sweeter the eastern ones beyond which, appears Lake Maggiore, with an exceptional high hill, the Mottarone Mountain (1491 m).

A picturesque area with several small villages with great historical past, which have inspired poets and writers, painters and filmmakers.
In the east, the Mottarone Mountain separates Lake Orta from Lake Maggiore, while westerly, 1300-meter high mountains separate the Lake from Valsesia. It is the westernmost of the pre-Alps lakes, originated from the southern front of the glacier of Sempione.
At the center of Lake Orta is the San Giulio Island, of small dimensions, with its famous Romanesque basilica where have been placed the remains of the Saint Giulio. The island and the town are largely pedestrian-only, which makes for romantic, leisurely daily life in umbrella-filled piazzas lined with cafes, and little family-owned restaurants.

The Romanesque Basilica, as it appears today, was ended at the XII century, when it was carved out the famous pulpit of serpentine marble from a quarry at nearby Oira, artistic jewel of the lake, with the figure of William Volpiano, born at the Island during the siege of the German emperor Otto I.
Saint Giulio Island, reachable by boat or motorboat, is dominated by the Romanesque Basilica, the Bishop's palace and the Benedictine monastery.
Orta Saint Giulio is located on a mountainous peninsula, dominated at the top by the Sacred Mountain, dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. Orta Saint Giulio overlooks the Saint Giulio Island. Miasino: village rich in villas and monuments. Pettenasco, ancient urban village certificated in the year 892. Omegna: the main city center. Vernier, with the picturesque village of Oira. Pella, with the medieval tower and the ancient church of St. Philibert. San Maurizio d'Opaglio, with hamlets of Lagna and Pasture. Gozzano, with the ancient port of Buccione, the episcopal castle with the Basilica della Colleggiata of San Giuliano and the orators of San Lorenzo and Santa Maria di Luzzara.


The Orta Riviera, or Saint Giulio, the fief of the bishops and barons novaresi originated in the thirteenth century, maintained its independent until the mid-eighteenth. It brought together the towns of the South Lake and Gozzano.

The human presence on Lake Orta is ancient and dates back at Celt people ascribable to the Culture of Golasecca. In the following centuries, the territory was object of the Romanization process that characterized the whole Transpadana.

With the arrival of the Lombards, around the year 570, the lands of Upper Novarese were annexed to the duchy of Saint Giulio.

In 957 the castle of the Saint Giulio Island, where Berengar of Ivrea barricaded in, was besieged by Litolfo, son of the Emperor Otto I.

In 1219, after a twenty-year dispute between the Bishop and the City of Novara, the fief of the "Riviera of San Giulio” formally arised. In 1311 the fief became an imperial countship and later it was also known as episcopal principality. In 1767 the sovereign rights over territory were ceded to the House of Savoia. The definitive transfer of power to the Savoia, occured in 1817 with the official resignation by the last prince-bishop holder. Since 1221 the city of Omega and the northern part of the lake federated with the City of Novara, following the fate of the Novarese. 

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