Blogs from Orta San Giulio, Piedmont, Italy, Europe

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Europe » Italy » Piedmont » Orta San Giulio August 31st 2018

This morning we woke to a rainy day, enjoyed a wonderful breakfast buffet, and boarded a bus at 9:00 headed to Lake Orta. The smallest of the Italian lakes it is called "Cinderella" in Italian because it is beautiful, and I guess, waiting to be discovered. The lakes are all the result of the last Ice Age, when glaciers covered this region. Como is the deepest. Garda is the largest. They are all surrounded by low mountains (up to about 4000 ft), which enhances their beauty. We arrived at Lake Orta and had to detour through a large industrial town, Obegna, because we came upon a closed tunnel. Due to the recent collapse of the bridge in Genoa, many roads and bridges are closed for inspection to diminish the chances of future failures. Igor tells us ... read more
Island at Orta with Benedictine monastery/convent
Old house in Orta
View of town hall on town square Orta

Europe » Italy » Piedmont » Orta San Giulio October 8th 2017

We woke up in our little B&B in Premosello Chiovenda, a small village in the Ossola Valley between Lago di Mergozzo and Domodossola, with sunshine and a blue sky. Fantastic. This is why we came to Italy over the weekend - to escape the rain at home in the northern Alps in Switzerland. We had a shower, packed our few belongings and left. We still had not really an idea what to do today - well, do not get us wrong. There are many, many things to do in this region with great hiking, mountains and the Lago Maggiore close by. But we really enjoyed the Sacro Monte (Holy Mountain) we visited the day before in Domodossola. And we did not bring our hiking gear. What better way to discuss this with a breakfast in a ... read more
Lago di Orta
Orta San Giulio
Chiesa dei Santi Nicolao e Francesco

Europe » Italy » Piedmont » Orta San Giulio June 26th 2017

It is a slow start today. This is Italy, we’re in the Italian lake district, and we can be a bit slow. On the other hand the forecast is not brilliant. We have to plan for thunderstorms. The temperatures have been getting hotter and the humidity is rising. Something has to give. So we decide on a plan. Breakfast is provided downstairs in the bar, then drive to Orta San Giulio for a lake cruise, lunch, and back before the rain. The drive to Orta doesn’t take very long. There is a ferry service but the timetable doesn’t account for the possibility of rain. On a day like this it pays to be independent. As we drive the short distance it is obvious the weekend revellers have gone. All is quiet. Once in Orta we find ... read more
Isola San Giulio
Lago d'Orta
Isola San Giulio

Europe » Italy » Piedmont » Orta San Giulio September 10th 2016

Despite our return journey from Italy into France, through Switzerland, passing uneventfully (if you exclude the stunning scenery of the Simplon pass), the same could not be said for the remainder of our journey. We arrived in France, as planned for our overnight stop, ahead of the trip to the port for a 6pm sailing the following day. You will have seen from the entry above that our planned Aire stop was less than satisfactory. However, this was clearly an omen for the remainder of the trip, which we had calculated as being c4.5 hours. We agreed to set off at 9am the following morning and take a leisurely drive to the port, and to eat in Dieppe sea front on our arrival. We awoke at c8am (later than usual) and set off at c9.30am. On ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Piedmont » Orta San Giulio September 10th 2016

Well, what is our verdict, having spent over 2 weeks both travelling in and staying in Fugly, through 5 different Countries (France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy). Is it cut out to meet our requirements? Did we make the right choice? We were amazed to find that Fugly simply swallowed our not inconsiderable gear and, by keeping things in their place, we were able to both keep the van tidy and lay our hands on everything. A big improvement over our prior Race Van conversion (although I hate to say this...). The van was well equipped and, having made a couple of prior modifications, we identified just a couple of items that we could add to improve usability - not least the addition of a couple of additional waste bins - in both the bathroom and ... read more

Europe » Italy » Piedmont » Orta San Giulio September 8th 2016

It is hard to believe that we have spent three whole days here already, having arrived at Camping Orta, on Lake Orta, on Friday night and set up camp. It is now Tuesday morning. We spent Saturday exploring the town - enjoying a leisurely lunch at a local restaurant and taking in the views. Sunday was focussed, as always, on the F1 race, which we watched in the campsite bar on the other side of the road. Sadly Lewis's performance wasn't sparkling - although he remains in lead of the Championship by 2 points... Yesterday was stunning. A trip to Mottarone and a visit to Alpyland.... read more
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Europe » Italy » Piedmont » Orta San Giulio September 8th 2016

What are the 'must have' store cupboard ingredients that no van should be without? We stopped for one night at an Aire in France, en route back to the port, which was 'star' rated for its village amenities. These included restaurants duly signposted... However, the one restaurant included on the map had clearly closed down some years ago, leaving a kebab house and a Carrefour mini market... Nice... Not! Our challenge therefore, on arriving back at the van after a fruitless trawl of the village, was to make something from our left overs / store cupboard, which we did. Paella. On opening the cupboard we were confronted with, amongst other ingredients, saffron, truffles and anchovies - not all of which were needed for the Paella, but which did make us smile. We were sure to be ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Piedmont » Orta San Giulio September 7th 2016

As aspiring OATs ourselves (I am dropping the G for grey as, at 45, I am proud of my full head of brown hair), I have been interested to hear, from Nick, about the GOATs he has got talking to on our travels - Nick being more sociable than me, although I have become acquainted with a few of them. At what point in life one should become an OAT is a frequent topic of conversation - as is to what extent one should retain a base in the UK versus release equity to fund travels. We are still searching for the right answer. We are aged 45 and 55 respectively and have both worked all of our lives, and are continuing to do so to date. We have a nice home in the UK in ... read more
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Europe » Italy » Piedmont » Orta San Giulio September 6th 2016

What we didn't realise, before purchasing our van, was that there is snobbery in motor-homing, which, apparently, should influence what you buy (if you can afford it), instead of what you actually need. We, in our view, very sensibly, purchased our Hymer MLT-580 (Fugly) for its features and were shocked to be informed, by a very well healed couple in the show room, that they were 'only' purchasing a Carado, which, apparently, is an 'entry level' Hymer. News to us. Blissfully unaware of this fact we had reviewed the specs of all of the vehicles in the showroom and would have been happy to buy a Carado had it met our spec. Unfortunately the garages would not accommodate our bike dimensions and / or payload requirements. When they asked us what we were buying, and we ... read more

Europe » Italy » Piedmont » Orta San Giulio September 4th 2016

The test... Would the van hold our gear? Having bought and taken delivery of the van, we were still yet to determine, for sure, that our Honda VFR 800 would actually fit in the garage... An expensive mistake if not! The dimensions suggested it would... We drove the van home and attached the ramp with some degree of nervousness. This proved to be unfounded - although we found that we had to remove the top box frame. Now for the acid test. Would the top box (containing helmets) and panniers (essential for food shopping when away), alongside our leathers fit into the internal cupboard I had earmarked for them (the largest of the 'wardrobes' under the bed and accessed via both a lifting lid and large door). The answer was yes! Result! So here we have ... read more




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