Mottarone and Lake Maggiore

Mottarone mountain (m. 1485) that separates the most famous Lake Maggiore from Lake Orta is equipped for winter sports with ski lifts. On clear days you can admire the spectacular view of the seven lakes, Monte Rosa and the Alps. It will be exciting to take the cable car in Stresa (Lake Maggiore), where you can load your mountain bike up to the summit (18 minutes) and from there descend towards the side of Lake Orta.

The cable car makes an intermediate stop at the "Alpinia Botanical Garden", near the town of Gignese, which can be visited from April to October, every day except Mondays from 9.30 am to 6 pm with free admission.

Lake Orta and San Giulio island

Lake Orta is one of the prealpine lakes of Northern Italy, located between the provinces of Novara and Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and the one located more to the West. Approx. 13 km and a maximum of 2 km wide, with a perimeter of approx. 35 km, has a maximum depth of 143 m and is located at an altitude of 290m.

The two sides are somewhat different: the western shores are steeper and harsher, with mountains that separate the Lake from Valsesia; the eastern ones are softer, the hills beyond which there is Lake Maggiore, with an exceptionally high hill, the Mottarone (1491 m).

A picturesque area full of small villages with a great historical past, which inspired poets and writers, painters and directors.

To the east, Mount Mottarone separates Lake Orta from Lake Maggiore, while in the west, mountains as high as 1300 meters separate the water from the Valsesia. It is the most western of the pre-alpine lakes, originating from the southern front of the Simplon glacier..

At the center of Lake Orta is the island of San Giulio, very small in size, which houses the remains of the namesake saint in the Basilica.

The Basilica, as it appears today, was completed in the 12th century: it was at that time that the famous ambo carved in the gray-greenish stone of Oira, the artistic jewel of the lake, with the figure of Guglielmo da Volpiano, who was born on island during the siege of the German emperor Otto I.

San Giulio island, reachable by boat or motorboat, is dominated by the Romanesque basilica, the bishop's palace and the Benedictine abbey.

Orta San Giulio is located on a mountainous peninsula, which houses the Sacro Monte, dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. The island of San Giulio faces it. Miasino: a town rich in villas and monuments. Pettenasco, an ancient urban center attested since the year 892. Omegna: the main urban center. Nonio, with the suggestive fraction of Oira. Pella, with the medieval tower and the ancient church of San Filiberto. San Maurizio d'Opaglio, with the hamlets of Lagna and Pascolo. Gozzano, with the ancient port of Buccione, the bishop's castle with the collegiate basilica of San Giuliano and the oratories of San Lorenzo and Santa Maria di Luzzara.


Those who are passionate about water sports can also go swimming in the bathing waters of Lake Orta in the swimming pool of the Municipal Sports Center of Omegna, scuba divers, rowing, water skiing and sailing..
Moreover, for sport fishing lovers, we recommend the Lake of Bria Bridge near Omegna and the Nonio Lakes on the western shore. Numerous sports fishing associations are present in the area.

There are also numerous stables on Lake Orta (Miasino, Egro, Invorio), some of which organize courses at different levels.

We suggest you:

  • Mottarone Ski
  • Golf Club Alpino a Gignese, fr. Vezzo
  • Golf Club Des Iles Borromées a Brovello Carpugnino Loc. Motta Rossa.

Museums and foundations

The Ecomuseum was born with the intention of networking the cultural resources of the territorial area that is historically and geographically connected to Lake Orta (Mountain unions of Cusio Mottarone, Due Laghi, Valle Strona and Quarne, Territory of the Ancient Riviera of San Giulio) and embracing the area of Cusio, Val Strona, Mottarone up to the gates of Val d'Ossola and the slopes that descend towards Lake Maggiore between the province of Novara and the province of Verbania.

The Ecomuseo del Lago d'Orta e Mottarone includes the followings:

  • Museo della tornitura de Legno (Pettenasco);
  • Museo dell'Ombrello e del Parasole (Gignese);
  • Museo Etnografico dello Strumento Musicale a Fiato (Quarna Sotto); 
  • Museo di Arte Sacra (Forno);
  • Museo del Rubinetto e della sua Tecnologia (San Maurizio d'Opaglio);
  • Museo Arti e Industria "Forum" (Omegna);
  • Fondazione Calderara per l'Arte Contemporanea (Vacciago di Ameno);
  • Museo Naturalistico Alpe Selviana - Cooperativa agricola "Il Glicine"