Home #WHERETONEXT Europe Discover one of Italy’s best kept secrets

Discover one of Italy’s best kept secrets

Lake Orta and the mythical San Giulio Island

Casa Fantini

For the ultimate Italian escape that ticks all the boxes this summer, book a few nights at concept hotel, Casa Fantini, on the shores of beautiful Lake Orta.

Just one hour from Milan, this contemporary and elegant five-star hotel is the perfect location from which to explore the area by boat, foot, bicycle or by car. Often overlooked for its bigger sisters Como and Maggiore, the lake itself has inspired many writers of the 18th and 19th Century including Lord Byron, Honoré de Balzac and Robert Browning.

Lake Orta is one of Italy’s little known hidden gems, bursting with myths and legends. An enchanting freshwater lake overflowing with natural beauty and fascinating history, a photographer’s paradise, that constantly shape-shifts with the ever-changing ethereal light, from where you can explore a myriad of cultural and historical delights that the lake and surrounding area has to offer.

Top seven must-do day trips to do on Lake Orta from Casa Fantini:

Take a boat trip with a delicious picnic to the island of San Giulio

Rent your own boat from the little dock at Pella (no sailing license required), by the doors of Casa Fantini (a short five-minute sail). The hotel’s Chef will create a customised picnic for you from the menu to enjoy and if you wish they will provide a personal guide and suggestions of where to go. In the centre of the lake lies the tiny island of San Giulio, where you arrive to a staircase that leads to the Roman Basilica which houses some impressive art. Visitors are encouraged to walk through the alleys of the island on the ‘way of silence and meditation’.  Many scholars and historians come to this island from all over the world to visit the ancient Romanesque Ambo (12th century pulpit).  San Giulio is home to the cloistered nuns who inhabit the island for most of the year and who celebrate St Giulio’s day as a festival at the end of January.

E-bike tours: Cycle the stunning landscapes, tour the lake and up to the mountains for breathtaking views of the area with tailor made e-bike tours on a Thok e-bike. There will be 3 itineraries, from adventurous to calm.

Walk around the historical village of Orta San Giulio

Stroll around the beautiful village of Orta San Giulio.  The village is part of the ‘Borghi Più belli d’Italia’ (the Italian circuit of small towns with strong historical and artistic interest).  Here you will find the Piazza Motta and the Broletto.  The village winds through narrow stone streets that reach the water.  You can get to the villa from Casa Fantini either by car (15-minute drive or by a 10-minute boat ride).

Indulge in the land of wine and truffles (according to season)

For food lovers, wine and food tours can be arranged. In just two hours from Casa Fantini you arrive in the land of wines and truffles. The Langhe, with its precious villages of Alba, Neive, Bergolo and Barolo, is the peak of a Food and Wine tour in the North of Italy.

Visit the sacred alpine mountains on the hill tops

Immerse yourself in sacred history and visit the UNESCO world heritage site of Sacro Monte di Orta.  This is part of the Sacred Alpine Mountains in the green woods on the top of a hill overlooking Lake Orta. Visit 21 chapels with frescoes and see 375 terracotta sculptures on the life of the Saint San Francesco d’Assisi.

Drive the mountain roads to a Baroque style sanctuary

Drive along the hairpin bends and visit the village of Boleto, a charming village where you can see the church of Madonna del Sasso – a Baroque style sanctuary with magnificent views from its balcony of Lake Orta, located on a granite spur overlooking the water.

Book a photography lesson in a boat

Guests at Casa Fantini can take part in custom-tailored “Experiences”. Explore the lake in your own private boat with a delicious picnic packed by the chef (water skiing, rowing and fishing also available), or take a photography tour with a professional photographer who will teach you to look at Lake Orta through a photography lens, discovering the shades, details, reflections and shadows of the lake.

Enjoy a vintage car ride with a local historian guide

Or hop into a vintage car guided by a local historian and discover the culture and history of this unique area. There are also nature walks through the trees of the Mottarone Park, visits to local design houses and e-biking, where you will take in the panoramic views from the Belvedere of Quarna to the Sacro Monte of Orta San Giulio.  Surrounded by mountains, woods and lakes, Lake Orta is heaven for hiking and trekking lovers with The Croce di Egro, Mount Mesma and the Torre del Buccione all to discover.

Or if you prefer, just relax and be pampered by the tranquil ‘lake-time’ concept that the hotel’s philosophy embraces. Everything at the hotel is designed to take you on a slow calm journey in harmony with the lake’s own rhythms – little touches from the slow movement of the doors, to the soft natural lighting that reflects the lake.  Even the sweet orange, rose and cedar wood fragrance inside the hotel, has been created to inspire a soothing home from home atmosphere where you will feel nurtured and nourished.

Top pampering rituals for lake-time self-care at Casa Fantini;

Try the Comfort Zone ‘Tranquility Sleep Ritual’. Using Ayurvedic massage combined with soft brushes, this heavenly treatment induces a state of deep rest and relaxation that acts on the neurological pathways and the three senses (smell, hearing and touch) using essential oils and Indonesian Sea Malay. Book this after 5pm for the best sleep you’ve ever had.

Other treatments include the TranquilityTM Sound Ritual, (432 Hrz music) a connective tissue massage as well as Shiatsu to balance Qi and vital therapy.

All treatments take place inside the bedrooms and every room has its own mini-spa ensuite with state of the art shower cabins that include Turkish Baths and Chromotherapy.


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