Day 2 – 13/9/23

Reasonable night’s kip in a comfortable, if creaky, bed. Down for a decent buffet breakfast before boarding a coach for a trip to Lake Orta. Weather not at all promising, unfortunately – rain in the air, around 20⁰ and cloudy.

Our tour leader, Frederica, was informative, but her English, although good, was heavily accented. We gradually managed to tune in.

We first stopped at a hill behind the town of Arona to view the massive statue of Saint Charles, Bishop of Milan and (I think) the patron saint of Italy. He was connected with the Borromeo family, who own a lot of the real estate in these here parts, even today.

The Plan was to build 12 chapels in honour of St. Charles around this area. This is actually the only one that made it.

Back on the coach for our destination, the town of Pella. From here, we took a short boat ride across Lake Orta to the town of Orta San Giulio, passing the Isola San Giulio on the way (we will be visiting this later).

Isola San Giulio
Boat trip
Arriving at Orta San Giulio

We now had three hours to kill. Jean and I decided to take the circular walk around the promontory and attempt the climb up to the Sacro Monte later if we felt able.

So, off we set.

Despite the weather, which was very overcast and slightly rainy, this was a lovely walk, giving us the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of Lake Orta.

Some very nice real estate around here

At the end of the walk, we saw a sign pointing uphill to the Sacro Monte, approaching it from the other side from the town. This involved walking up a steep and winding road, but we made it.

And boy, was it worth it.

This whole complex of 20 chapels was built for the honour of the aforementioned Saint Charles, but much of it seemed to commemorate Saint Francis of Assisi. More can be found at

The first chapel we entered was number 13.

Extraordinary statues telling a story

There was a café up there, so we stopped for a coffee before looking around further.

On we went.

Views across Lake Orta from Sacro Monte. The weather had improved dramatically.
This is the main church of the complex. Surprisingly plain.

An absolutely extraordinary collection of religious buildings.

Descent to Orta San Giulio. This was very, very hard on my knees.
Carrying on downwards
Dog statues. Me neither.
It’s art, Jim, but not as we know it
Back into town
Much clearer view of Pella on the other side of the lake

Next up was the Isola San Giulio, just a short boat ride away. This has a church and monastery on it, and you can walk round it in 10 minutes.

The church was amazing.

Tomb of San Giulio
Church tower
On the boat back to Pella
A monument to the Libyan war, back in Pella

What a day.

Back to the hotel by coach, a beer was obtained, and we spent the rest of the afternoon chilling on our balcony. Oh, and having a snooze…..

Dinner was a better experience than last night. We learned our lesson and avoided the pasta dish, as that had been so filling. Company was convivial, talking mainly to Pat and Alan.

Tomorrow promises to be another interesting day, visiting two of the islands out in Lake Maggiore itself. Hope you’ll join us to find out more.

6 responses to “Day 2 – 13/9/23”

  1. Lovely memories of our visit to Lake Orta – thankyou. So glad the weather cheered up for you and that you thoroughly enjoyed the excursion.

    1. Thanks, Jay. Glad you’ve overcome the comments hurdle.

  2. When I read that you were attempting a walk, I wondered how your knees would cope. I hope they don’t cause too much grief, as I expect that you’ll be walking a fair bit over the coming days.

    1. Downhill is particularly troublesome. However, I now have a date for an op on my left knee – 4th October 2023. Over the moon.

  3. this bought back memories of walking round all those tiny streets round the lake
    what an amazing day you had
    brillant news about the date for operation and we have our ditch hearing on the 25 oct

  4. avatar


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