ORTA SAN GIULIO

On Buenno’s return, we couldn’t start with a travel article from somewhere other than Orta San Giulio. A special place for us for many reasons, not so well known by foreign tourists, but worth visiting.

Orta San Giulio is a medieval town in northern Italy, a municipality in the province of Novara in Piedmont, about 1 hour’s drive from Milan and on the edge of Lake D’Orta, with a central island known as Isola D’Orta or San Giulio Island which houses the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery and the Basilica of San Giulio which has existed for sixteen or seventeen centuries. Despite being a small city, with around 1200 inhabitants, Orta offers all the romanticism and historical landmarks that enchant Italian cities.

Legend has it that Isola D’Orta on Lake Orta was founded by San Giulio, a 4th century bishop. The story goes that Giulio was sent to the area by the Roman emperor to convert the local population to Christianity. Giulio initially encountered resistance, but eventually managed to persuade the people to convert by performing miracles and preaching the gospel. In one famous episode, Giulio is said to have banished a dragon that was terrorizing the city, earning the gratitude of the people and the nickname “Dragon Slayer”. The island was named San Giulio and is now a popular pilgrimage site for Catholics.