Lago d’Orta is about 40 minutes, as the bus rides, southwest of Lago Maggiore. The primary attractions are the town of Orta itself and Isola di San Giulio nearby. I arrived at the Northern end of the lake and took a boat down to Orta. This port town has some beautiful old buildings and some interesting modern art on display, but I quickly grew tired of the shopping crowds and headed up the hill to the uncrowded Sacro Monte. Here on the large, beautifully landscaped grounds was an interesting collection of churches, monuments, and other buildings. One of the more interesting things to me was scenes from biblical stories depicted with life-size sculpted characters – very beautiful work. Overall a very peaceful place to wander around and of course rich with photo opportunities! I think I would spend a lot of time up here if I lived here. It’s bit hard to describe, but I just had a certain subtle feeling of home or déjà vu here – a touch of familiarity and comfort that just washed over me at times.
Last, but not least, Isola di San Giulio is home to a monastery and Basilica di San Giulio, among other historical buildings. I ended up not actually taking a boat out to the island as I found it more interesting viewed from Orta or from the water (my boat went by it on the way back).