The unique place where it seems like the time stands…
Our newlyweds are coming from London, and their friends and families from Australia and America. And somewhere in the middle, there is a place that has deeply moved their hearts, thanks to its beauty, peace, history, romance, and untouched nature. This unique place where it seems like the time stands still belongs to the series of beautiful Italian lakes, and every single one of them with no exceptions could leave you breathless. That special place is Lake Orta, with islet San Giulio located at the hearth of the lake, and the small town Orta San Giulio at its coast. They have bravely worked on turning their dreams into reality – they started to organize Lake Orta destination wedding.
Lake Orta wedding photographer
It would be enough to sit on a bench in the center of the town, only to watch the slow and relaxed lifestyle of its people, ducks swimming in the lake, humming of the birds, the church bells, to watch the ships departing and coming to the Isle of San Giulio, and feel the spirit of ancient Italy all day long. We are sure that all our guests enjoyed that, and they all wanted to stop the time, and most of them would like to come back this place once again. Because of this unique experience, our newlyweds have invited their guests to their Lake Orta wedding.
Lake Orta wedding – Boat ride to Orta san Giulio
The lakeside life on a beautiful Lake Orta
Piazza Motta © DT studio Lake Orta wedding photographer
Orta San Giulio
That small town where they and their guests have stayed, and where the wedding ceremony and the celebration took place
There is a certain order of secrecy and mystery that surrounds the beautiful Lake Orta, located in northern parts of Italy. Its most dedicated visitors are often hesitant to recommend it to the others, all in order to preserve its pristine beauty. Interestingly enough, it is impressive how few people – counting Italians as well – know how magical this place actually is. That is reflected in a fact that people from Milano call it La Cenerentola (Cinderella) since they usually see it as a better and nicer sibling to the larger but much more commercially oriented lakes of Como and Maggiore. But if you ask me, the most memorable and the most astonishing aspect of Orta lies in its beauty. It is hard to comprehend how beautiful this place is – thanks to the lake’s ethereal, almost otherworldly qualities. Most certainly, it is a place that will feed your soul and eyes with wonders.
Credit for that partially goes to the amazing architecture, partially to the mesmerizing island located in its center (more details further in the text), but the greatest role here plays the intimate ambiance: the way that surrounding hills, Mediterranean weather, and sunlight are always in contrast with the water itself. At times it seems like unearthly stillness is rising from its depths. The fog frequently covers the surface, overcasting the island and the shores. And during the winters, heavy snow overtakes everything, silently falling from the gloomy skies. Sometimes the sun shines so brightly for days and days, making you wonder if having any other climate here is even a slight possibility. And the other times the föhn winds turn the lake into a raging fury. The light here is different every hour. If you take a look in the early morning – you can spot a medieval mist; by noon – the lake will be as vivid as an Edification; and then, by five in the afternoon – it is a time for brooding romanticism. No doubt, it is a magical place you will never want to leave.
Lake Orta Wedding – couple walking up to the church before the wedding © DT studio
Romantic wedding session on Orta streets © DT studio – Italy wedding photographer
Wedding bridal party walking up to the church in Lake Orta Italy © DT studio Italy wedding photographer
The village is nothing short of a labyrinth of colorful streets and strait cobbled passages, flanked by ancient stone bastions with entrances topped with triangular architraves. The tiny squares, much reminding of the campielli of Venice, are resuscitated by the presence of many craft stores, antique shops and always lively cafés. One of a kind view of Lake Orta can be experienced from the 15th century Church of Maria Assunta, also a popular wedding place, from where a mesmerizing path made of large granite steps is leading the way straight to Piazza Motta, known as the main square of the village.
Lake Como wedding photographer
Destination wedding Italy – Newlyweds at Piazza Motta
Lake Orta wedding photographer – Orta San Giulio streets
On your way down you will find yourself placed between two rows of buildings and houses, all frescoed in the early 16th-century style, and soon you will arrive the square where you can spot the local town hall known as Palazzo Della Comunità, which was built in the 16th century. From there two side streets are leading to the Moccarolo and Villa districts. The southern part of the village, or the Moccarolo district, is widely known for its elegant villas and traditional townhouses, all enhanced with heir little but vivid flower gardens, overlooking the Orta lake. The houses that can be seen in the Villa district are, for the most part, period townhouses spruced with beautifully wrought iron balconies. Every June the Cusio Festival of Ancient Music is held here, adding one special layer to the already strong medieval ambiance of Orta. During the festival, one can attend a series of concerts, performed only using the ancient instruments by internationally known musicians. All this is held in the 18th century Casa Tallone, located on San Giulio Island. But Orta certainly is not only medieval atmosphere: the village is also home for some contemporary cultural events, one of such is yearly Ortissima event – an exhibition of arts with continuous exhibits in Palazzo Pinotti Umbertini, along with provisional installations that can be seen throughout many of the village streets. Also, no one should miss out on Orta in Fiore, a local Flower Expo and Marketplace held during the springtime in Piazza della Motta, which becomes overtaken by the colors and fragrances of both local and many exotic flower species.
Orta San Giulio is erected on the slopes of the Sacro Monte, a steep hill that creates a peninsula perking out into the lake. During the day Orta San Giulio is looking longingly at the wonderful island. And during the night, its gaze becomes even more enchanted by the island’s lights, making it looks like it’s floating on dark waters, shimmering with reflections. Every person who visits Lake Orta once is immediately drawn by its irresistibly beautiful village: the old burgh of Orta San Giulio. The village is directly facing the most astonishing Island of San Giulio, which is located just a short distance away. But, the original look of the burgh slightly derives from the well established Baroque and Renaissance art, which is the most common feature of the architecture found on its town buildings and vivid gardens. Among the charms of the place include the marvelous residences of Villa Perone and Villa Crespi, along with the Palazzo della Comunità – once a host of the “Consiglio della Riviera”.
Wedding details by Italian lakes wedding photographer.
Lake Orta wedding photographer – San Giulio Island
For anyone who is interested in experiencing the finest view of the area should visit the Sacro Monte of Orta, a chapel complex erected between the late years of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries, among the threes of now Special Nature Reserve of the Sacro Monte. This ancient complex can be reached fairly easily following a path leading from Piazza Motta. The high aspects of its architecture, as well as art, are kindred to the beauty and consonance of its natural elements, all contributing to an atmosphere of indeterminable spirituality, which as expected, has a deep impact on the visitors. The story of this complex goes way back to the year 1583, when the Community of Orta made a decision to set up a convent nearby the Church of San Nicolao, the only remaining reminiscent of it today is a wooden sculpture of Our Lady of Mercy dating from the 15th century. In the year 1591, the Capuchin Franciscans were given a permission to begin building of sacred temples devoted to the life of St Francis, starting with chapel number XX, the temple that was founded first but was the very last in its respective cycle.
Bride and groom at the Sacro Monte di Orta before their Italian wedding ceremony
The chapel was finally completed by the end of the 18th. All these chapels were settled on a long spiraling path, which uses the hill slope of the hill, and uses surrounding threes as a natural guide, giving a chance for pilgrims to catch a break and have a meditative session before reaching the top where they will be presented with the superb panorama of the lake. Many prominent artists worked on decorating these chapels, including il Morazzone, Stefano Maria Legnai, and il Beretta. Since artists were from different time periods, a mixture of styles was unavoidable. Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical style, it all there. The main objective of every Sacro Monte was to provide religious instruction to the people of faith (most of which were not literate) via the vivid images of the frescoes and the tableaux of terracotta statues. In 1980, Sacro Monte of Orta was proclaimed a Special Nature reserve by the Piedmont Region, in order to protect the significant artistic and environmental heritage of the place. Anyone who is visiting the historic village of Orta San Giulio should also pay a visit to the Sacro Monte. Among facilities here, one can find a restaurant with bar, a dedicated picnic area, as well as a visitor center. If you are in need of any pieces of information, don’t hesitate to talk to the stuff, they will be delighted to answer all of your questions. Historical notes: during May of 1882, well known German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche visited the place and has fallen in love with the young girl Lou Salomé. These details have emerged from the letters written by Nietzsche to his acquaintance Paul Rée. the “Palazzotto”, is among the very important sepultures of architecture and history of the area, and it gives extra lights to the burgh tales and its power struggles.
The newlywed couple at Sacro di Monte before their Lake Orta wedding
San Giulio Island
The most dominant building on the small Island of San Giulio is by far its Romanesque basilica, followed by the bishop’s palace and finally the Benedictine abbey. The island can be easily reached by boat or motor launch. According to the legend, the island lying some 400 meters away from the lakefront of Orta, in the past was nothing more than a naked rock, inhabited only by serpents and some horrible monsters. That came to an end in the year 390 when San Giulio reached the island by crossing the lake flying on his cloak while being guided through the storm by his staff. That was a fitting place for the Saint to found a church, in which he was buried as well, and that way he transmuted the island into a center of evangelization for the whole surrounding area. After you arrive on the island, just follow a short path of stairs and the island’s main attraction, Romanesque Basilica, will soon be in your sight. From there you can opt to participate in the “way of silence and meditation”. It is a walk around the whole island among the narrow streets, a perfect way to experience and appreciate spirituality and the architectural heritage of the place. While exploring the streets you bound to arrive in front of the 19th century Bishop’s Palace, as well as the Mater Ecclesiae Benedictine Abbey, an order of cloistered nuns who made the island their permanent home and dedicated their lives to pray, study, redintegrate old and valuable church chasubles, make wafers for communions and their most famous “pane di San Giulio” (St Julius’ bread). The rest of the building that can be seen on the island, are now private properties, but once they were used as priests’ lodgings, including Villa Tallone – one of the oldest villa on the island – today a prestige place where concerts of classical music are held annually. One wonderful restaurant with a terrace looking on the lake, along with a souvenir store complete the places that are open to the visitors.
San Giulio Island © DT studio – Italy wedding photographer
The Church of Santa Maria Assunta
Dating from the 15th Century, Church of Santa Maria Assunta is located in the center of Orta San Giulio. When you arrive at the main town square Piazza Motta, you will spot a charming cobbled pedestrian path leading straight to the Church. From that spot, you can have an enjoyable view that includes pastel colored historical houses of Orta San Giulio, the island of St. Julius, the crown of the Alps, as well as the glimmering Lake Orta below your feet! The Church of Santa Maria Assunta was erected in the year 1485 as a token of appreciation by town people who had survived the black plague and since has seen slight modifications during the 18th century. Its iconic yellow frontispiece was rebuilt by Carlo Nigra and enhanced with Renaissance decor and magnificent pillars made of granite. Within the church are two aisles and a nave, split in half by high and magnificent columns. Interiors are adorned with a wide selection of paintings with great artistic and historical value; one of the standouts is a piece portraying Saint Charles Borromeo in Milan during the period of black plague, painted by Giulio Cesare Procaccini, and as such, it is an outstanding example of Italian painting style during the 17th century. Depending on the availability of the parish priest, Catholic weddings in Lake Orta are held in this gorgeous Church – pretty much every single day of the week.
Bridal party in the stunning Church of Santa Maria Assunta, Orta, Italy
Lake Orta wedding – Church of Santa Maria Assunta
For those of you who are planning to have a wedding ceremony on Italian Lakes, Villa Gippini could easily be a perfect venue to organize an elegant cocktail party on Orta Lakeshore. Villa was erected during the 18th century nearby Hotel San Rocco who is now its rightful owner. Without a question, San Rocco hotel and Villa Gippini are simply among the best places for having a luxurious wedding party. The Villa Gippini can be reached quite easily on foot from Maria Assunta Church in Orta Sacro Monte where the wedding ceremonies are performed. The stunning features of Villa Gippini are the reason that made it in one of the best venues available in Lake District. Everything there fits in perfectly, creating a unique setting: rich history, wonderful nature, and the idyllic view on Orta Lake. Keep in mind that the garden itself can be rented just for a cocktail party. It is most certainly a wonderful and magical place for celebrating wedding day, together with family members and friends. Nearby Hotel San Rocco is also a special kind of place. In the past, it has been a convent for about 150 years, all up to the 60’s when it was revised as the main hotel building. Villa Gippini joined the hotel property just a few years after that. This wonderful object built in the baroque architectural style is rich with priceless handcrafts, stuccoes, and frescoes. The garden is one of the favorite romantic corners here, thanks to the pleasant shadow-casting trees and an amazing view on the Lake Orta adds something special to the complete atmosphere. Bounded by the old monastery walls and the shores of the magical Orta Lake, this building has kept its striking visual identity. The current owners are the Giacomini Group who have introduced many innovations, combining the stringency of its architectural features with some new modern high-tech features, all while taking care of natural and environmental elements.
Bridal Wedding preparations at Villa Gippini, Lake Orta
Wedding flowers waiting for the bride and bridesmaids
Moments before her destination wedding in Italy Lake Orta
Thanks to that, in 2010 Hotel San Rocco was certified as the very first environmentally sustainable hotel and an ICIM building. The whole complex was enriched in 2002 with an addition of the prestigious Villa Gippini, a highly elegant construction build in the baroque architectural style. According to the reports made by Canon Angelo Fara in “La Riviera di San Giulio, Orta e Gozzano”, published 1861, the central complex that is today Hotel San Rocco, originally was the home of the Priest Giovanni Gemelli of Orta (canon of the Island of San Giulio). In 1647 he donated the San Rocco, along with some of his lands, to the foundation of the College dedicated to S. Orsola, operated by the Orsoline nuns. Even today, serving as a proof of this legend is an oil painting set in the Hotel hall dating way back to 28. October 1605, depicting a portrait of the very first Mother Superior – Anna Theodora Silana – the college promoter. In 1813, during the reign of Napoleone Bonaparte, it was closed and sold out. But, several years later, the San Rocco once again became a place of peace when it was purchased by His Eminence Giacomo Felice Gentile. A girl’s school was founded and operated under the administration of the Giuseppe nuns. For about 150 years, all until 1960 when Giuseppine nuns gave it up, it served as an extrication convent.
Wedding day at Villa Gippini, Lake Orta
Lake Orta wedding venues © DT studio – Italy wedding photographer
Wedding gown at Villa Gippini Lake Orta
Wedding preparations at Villa Gippini
Is there be a better place for wedding preparations than the top of the class and architecturally divine Villa Gippini? Beautiful interiors are really important for capturing mesmerizing photos, and Lake Orta Villa Wedding is certainly breathtaking.
Getting ready at Villa Gippini © DT studio Italy wedding photographer
Wedding in Italy
The striking natural wonders of the Italian Lakes, adorned with the silent snowy dreams of the Alp Mountains, makes it the most definitive romantic ambiance for a wedding ceremony in Italy. Serving as an everlasting Muse and eternal inspiration of the Romantic poets, the Italian lakes have always been a popular destination. From the ancient Roman times to the modern day and age – it’s still a highly requested place where many A-listers, celebrities, and other wealthy Milanese people like to spend their vacation days.
Destination wedding Italy © DT studio – Lake Orta wedding photographer