The locals call LAKE ORTA (Lago d’Orta) “Cinderella”, capturing perfectly the reticent beauty of this small lake, with its deep blue waters and intriguing island. Lying west of Lake Maggiore, wholly within Piemonte, it is unmissable for Orta San Giulio, the most captivating medieval village on this – or, perhaps, any – Italian lake, with narrow, cobbled lanes snaking between the wrought-iron balconies of tall, pastel-washed palazzi. The village is unforgettably romantic, but consequently popular: on summer Sundays the approach roads are jammed with traffic (though the charm returns after dark). If you can, visit midweek or out of season.

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