Nestled in the middle of Lake Orta, near the historied and medieval Orta village in Italy, lies a small and wondrous island known as St. Julius. It’s the perfect marriage of nature and art. It’s an enchanted site that feels and looks like stepping back centuries in time.
Lake Orta’s shores are quiet and full of forests and old villages. You will find lovely piazzas with folks holding umbrellas, stopping in at local markets and cafes.
A rich history
St. Julius Abbey is the 100th church founded by St. Julius. It was built back in the fourth century! It is said that St. Julius reached the island in the year 390, floating with a cape, and sent away snakes and dragons that were infesting the enclave.
In ancient times, a castle sat on the tiny island. Queen Willa, the wife of Berengario II lived there. It eventually became the headquarters of Riviera di San Giulio, a church-state that ruled the Italian area for over a century. In the mid-1800s, the castle was destroyed by bishops, and a monastery was built in its place.
Perfect wedding destination
Few spots near Lake Orta offer as stunning of a backdrop for wedding photos as the island of St. Julius. Many happy couples tie the knot in a civil ceremony at Villa Bossi, Orta’s town hall by the shores. Narrow roads and ancient buildings wind throughout the island, and it’s a magical place to respite during the festivities of your big day.
Vintage souvenir shop and restaurant with a view
Many of the venues located on the small island of St. Julius are private. Still, you can access the island by ferry and experience the fantastic views and walk the winding, narrow roads for a small stopover during your visit to the Italian Lakes.
Open to the public is a picturesque souvenir shop filled with unique items. There is also a small restaurant, which offers frescoed rooms and a magnificent terrace looking out on the lake.