Italy is filled with beautiful landscapes and the region of Piedmont does not disappoint one bit. With my birthday quickly approaching and being that I am in the last trimester of pregnancy, I felt the urge to take a day trip. My friend Jenn had recently told me about an excursion she took to Lake Orta or Lago d’Orta so when Denis asked me what I wanted to do for my 42nd birthday, I had no doubts that a lake trip was in order.
Lago d’Orta is in the northern part of Piedmont, tucked inside the charming village of Orta San Giulio. This gem of a place is less than a two-hour drive from Turin and is the perfect romantic get-a-way where one can wander cobblestone streets, find treasures in Romanesque and Baroque architecture and bask in tranquility.
There were many cafes and restaurants to choose from in the town center. However, we knew that we would find some difficulty in finding a restaurant where the kitchen would still open at 2:40 pm, for most kitchens close at 2:30 pm. Denis explained to me that in Italy, generally speaking, when a pregnant woman presents herself at a restaurant the owners generally go out of their way to appease her. Well, two kitchens had already closed for the lunch shift but luckily we did find a hospitable outdoor cafe to have a simple yet memorable lunch.
The town square boasts a spectacular view of the lake and one needs to be patient in order to find a bench to sit on while tourists come to take a tour of Isola San Giulio. In the town square I found a wonderful textile shop called Penelope that sells hand-made linens produced by Bertozzi. Bertozzi uses wood from pear trees to make the stamps which are hand pressed on luxurious fabrics. Bertozzi is known for implementing environmentally friendly techniques all the while ensuring quality and craftsmanship.
Nestled in Orta San Giulio, there is Villa Crespi. Cristoforo Benigno Crespi, a cotton merchant who traveled frequently to Baghdad, built this extraordinary villa in 1879. Today, Villa Crespi is a 4-star hotel with a 2-star awarded Michelin restaurant on the premises. We admired the villa from afar which to me seemed like a castle of dreams.
I enjoyed the scenery so much during our drive out of Orta San Giulio. Even though this village is north of Turin there were flowers in bloom most everywhere and what seemed like endless rows of tree foliage.
All photos courtesy of Denis.