Lake Orta and Molveno, Italy

Lake Orta

Lake Orta, also known as Lake Orta, is a lake in northern Italy west of Lake Maggiore in Piedmont. The Lago d´Orta is only 13 km long and offers Italian landscapes of a magical kind. In the west, the snow-covered Monte Rossa, the second highest peak in the Alps, towers over the coast. The eastern bank is characterized by a gentler landscape with old forests.

The area around Lake Orta has long been a popular tourist spot, thanks to the tranquil beauty of the landscape, its fascinating history, and its wealth of art treasures – mainly Romanesque and Baroque architecture. Lake Orta has had its name since the 16th century, before that it was called Lago di San Giulio, after St. Julius, the patron saint of the beautiful region. The landscape is typically Italian, while the island of San Giulio has some very picturesque buildings, including a picturesque basilica and many beautiful villas, and also got its name from the local saint who lived in the 4th century.

Lake Maggiore in miniature

Lake Orta, one of the smallest and least known northern Italian subalpine lakes, is a place for sublime moments. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who visited the lake in 1882, believed that this experience changed his life forever. He even mentioned the magnificent area in the preface to his masterpiece “Also Spoke Zarathustra”. Other 19th-century writers who were also enchanted by their quiet beauty include French novelists Honoré de Balzac and Robert Browning. The author Browning dedicated his famous poem “By the Fireside” to Lake Orta, which aptly describes the beauty of this Italian landscape.

Sights and activities

Strangely enough, despite this praise, Lake Orta and its promising surroundings seem to have remained a rather secret place today – so remote that even many Italians have never heard of it. While visitors flock eastwards to the nearby, much larger Lake Maggiore, the pretty town of Orta offers quieter and more mystical delights overall.

In just five minutes you can take the ferry to Isola di San Giulio. The Sacro Monte di Orta, a pilgrimage site that is a UNESCO cultural heritage site, also impresses visitors. In a nature park there are 20 chapels, the frescoes and figures in them tell of the life of St. Francis of Assisi.

Lake Molveno

Fantastic lake landscape for active vacationers

Lake Molveno is surrounded by birch and maple forests, embedded in a picturesque landscape between the Brenta Dolomites and the Paganella massif. It is only 40 kilometers to Trento. It belongs to the Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige and, with a length of more than four kilometers, is the second largest lake that lies entirely in Trentino.

Diverse leisure and water sports options

The crystal clear lake with the excellent water quality is 124 meters deep in some places and a paradise for anglers. Pike, carp, perch, char and many other species of fish cavort here. The two winds Ora and Pelér (“vento da nord”) also make it an ideal destination for surfers and sailors. If you like, you can rent a rowboat or a pedal boat, take a stand-up paddleboarding course or go on a discovery tour in a canoe.

Families with children cavort on the beach, there are sunbathing lawns, playgrounds, a mini golf course and a skill course for mountain bikers.

Lake Molveno nature experience

For nature lovers and hikers, a trip to Lake Molveno is particularly interesting, because beautiful walking, cycling and hiking trails invite you to relax and discover. Highlights include excursions to the Brenta-Dolomites Nature Park (Parco naturale Adamello-Brenta): in addition to chamois and alpine ibex, brown bears also live there. The species-rich flora, which includes edelweiss, spotted gentian and heavenly herald, is also ideal for study trips.
Only 20 minutes by car from Lake Molveno is the Spormaggiore zoo, which is home to lynxes, wolves and owls.

An “excellent” lake

In 2018, Lago di Molveno was named the most beautiful lake in Italy for the fifth time. He received the award from the Touring Club Italiano and the environmental organization Legambiente. In addition to the quality of the water, the services in the villages on the shore and the well-tended beaches were praised. The idyllic village of Molveno on the northern bank received the “Orange Flag” for sustainable tourism from the Touring Club and inspires with its lovable charm.

Molveno, Italy