The area around Lake Orta has long been a favourite tourists, thanks to the quiet beauty of the landscape, its fascinating history and its wealth of artistic treasures - principally Romanesque and Baroque architecture.
Lake Orta lies to the west of Lake Maggiore, in the northern Italy. It is a minor star in the costellation of the subalpine lakes, but all the fascination and the history of the larger lakes seem to be concentrated in this short space.
Lake Orta, one of the smallest and least-known of northern Italy's sub-Alpine lakes, is a place for sublime moments. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who visited the lake in May 1882 and believed that the experience changed his life forever, inscribed the date "von Orta an" ("from Orta onwards") as a preface to his masterpiece Thus Spake Zarathustra. Other 19th-century writers enchanted by its quiet beauty include the French novelist Honoré de Balzac, who wrote rapturously of this "grey pearl in a green jewel-box", and Robert Browning.