On the shores of Italy's secret lake

Mountains over Lake Orta, Italy
Mountains over Lake Orta, Italy

As I’ve recently had you whizzing up and down the heel of Italy between the Gargano and Salento region, it would be nice now to mosey on up to one of the northern parts for a lovely relaxing mooch.

I’ve been to Lake Garda – and it is indeed a splendid place with views that will really inspire you; not to mention the ice-cream that will really fatten you up.

The other lakes are also breathtaking. Lake Como is very lucky to have George Clooney as a resident too – and vice versa!

Como is the epitome of beauty and the sublime.

Then there’s Lake Maggiore, which we will explore another day.

However, today’s suggestion is the lesser known Lake Orta, which is to the west of Maggiore.

If I won the lucky dip, I think I’d be liking this island as my place of residence, so appealing is it.

Like a shy beauty overlooked by her more outgoing siblings, Orta is rarely mentioned in the guide books yet it’s really very attractive.

For example, Orta San Giulio is a picturesque medieval village with winding cobbled streets and old palazzo. Gorgeous.

You could also visit ‘Isola San Giulio’ by boat but if you’re accompanied by crazy Uncle Tom, do ensure he doesn’t get carried away on hearing that the place was once home to dragons, according to legend.

He might come over all St. George again, heaven forbid!

There was that time he played the Saint for the Amateur Dramatics Christmas show. Mrs. Forsythe-Cringeworthy played the dragon and he prodded her just a bit too much with the plastic sword. They haven’t spoken since...

It’s said that Christian hero Julius arrived from Greece in 390 AD and got rid of said beasts.

He must have been quite a guy as he also created a sanctuary here which has beautiful frescoes.

I wonder if he’d consider the next Bond movie?

Anyway, I digress!

Also, above Lake Orta you’ll find chapels devoted to St Francis of Assissi and magnificent views in a scenic pine-filled setting.

It's a great place to escape the daily grind and you could impress back 'ome with your adventures, though hopefully not reenacting the dragon scenes too much.