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.
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).
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.
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 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacro_Monte_di_Orta.
The first chapel we entered was number 13.
There was a café up there, so we stopped for a coffee before looking around further.
On we went.
An absolutely extraordinary collection of religious buildings.
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.
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.