Living the high life in Lago d’Orta

Lago d'Orta from viewpoint next to our free car park - winner

We’re here: N45.79685 E8.41227

Weather: Roasty McToasty

We had a right good Skype session with family and friends last night. While our French SIM card didn’t want to work on Skype at all, the Italian one loves it. It was really good to see my parents again, as we haven’t seen them since Benidorm – so long ago in fact that they’re gearing up for another holiday now, but it’s not like I can say anything!

This morning we couldn’t resist any longer and drove to our first Italian supermarket, well technically it was a French one in Italy as the nearest commercial centre had a huge Carrefour stocked full of lovely goodies. The temperature in Dave was creeping up towards the 30’s so we only nipped in and grabbed a few things, and there was a no photography sign on the door, so no pics of all the tasty food – sorry. I can report on the essentials though:

  • A 1l brick of red wine is €0.99 (it was around €0.49 in Portugal, €0.59 in Spain and unavailable in France, (however we did find a 1.5l version for €1.49 so a similar price per glug)
  • 70cl of Baileys (original) was €10.76, we paid £10 in Gibraltar for a litre, but then it was duty free
  • 6 x 1.5l bottled water €1.38, €1.01 in France
  • Cheapest bottle of Asti Spumante was €1.19 – which I’m drinking while I write this
  • They had an 81kg sausage for sale – that must be for one helluva party
  • Baked beans were located in the exotic food aisle along with all things Mexican!

I’ve also noticed that everything is quite fair in Italy. At the supermarket checkout we joined one long queue and a bit like the post office back home waited for ‘cashier number two please’ to ring out before you head to the till to start putting your stuff on the conveyor belt – a much better system. As we drove along a sign nicely told us how many meters it was to a speed camera, not that Dave would ever get done for speeding, but it’s much fairer to tell you exactly where the cameras are.

30c and we still might need those snow chains?

We drove north through more rice paddy fields today, a strange landscape, up ahead the clouds looked strange, then I realised it wasn’t cloud but the top of a mountain and cloud, misty in the heat haze.

Is it a cloud or is it a mountain?

We were heading up into the lakes so Jay put a plea out on one of the motorhome forums for tips on places to stay for free. Most of the aires (or Sosta as they are known here) charge, but we got a reply about a free one on Lago d’Orta, so we headed there. The lake came into view and we started to climb, the sosta is in Parco Sacro Monte d’Orta – the National Park of the Sacred Mount of Orta. It’s a peninsular that sticks out into the lake about halfway up it on the right hand side as you look at it on the map (or click on the link above). It’s amazing. The Scared Mount is the highest part of the peninsular and has 21 chapels with 900 frescos and 366 statues.

Dress code for going into the churches – could maybe do with them in the UK when the weather gets warmer!
Bird with camouflage make up on – any ideas what it is?

It’s really peaceful here, with just the chirping of birds and ringing of church bells (does anyone know why they ring out the time twice on the hour? It’s the same in Spain and Portugal), so an ideal place to give Charlie a fur cut, he was getting way too hot in his fur coat.

Cutie’s new fur cut
Does this mean Charlie has to wear a muzzle and cut off his ears, no one else’s dog has?

A stroll down the hill took us to the lake side and a lovely little town of Orta San Giulio. Big expensive houses lined the lake, but little alleyways house boutiques, art galleries and shops. An obligatory ice cream was needed – Pistachio for J and something beginning with S for me (I went for the same as the woman in front of me – the quest to not have the same flavour continues!), before we walked along the path by the side of the lake and dipped our feet in to cool down. Poor Charlie got a proper dunking off one of the jetties that stick out from the many alleys leading to the lake between the houses.

Time for a quick dip for Charlie in Lago d’Orta
Narrow roads around here – glad sat nav didn’t have chance to bring us down here!
A couple of locals promenade through the main square

It’s hot, it’s tranquil, it’s got good ice cream and it’s free – there really is no reason to leave. We’ve cracked open our bottle of Asti Spumante and are going to quaff it all and stop for another day tomorrow. We might go for a dip in the lake and a picnic, either way we’ll have a little holiday by the lakes, but shhh! don’t tell anyone about it, it’s the lake that’s undiscovered by tourists and being only an hour or so from Turin could easily get over-run.

Lago d’Orta from viewpoint next to our free car park – winner

Have a great weekend.

Ju x



  1. The reason the bells ring twice is because in days gone by(when people didn’t have watches) as people toiled in the fields or village, you hear a bell but you may not have heard how many bells have rung, but in all likelihood you will have heard some, so all you have to know the time is to wait until the bells stop and then listen again and you will know the time ( if that makes sense)

    • Hi Richard, thanks for that. We’d half figured it, since we don’t have watches either (nor do we toil at anything for the time being). We were sure though, you’re a star, Jay

  2. I dont think any of us were made to toil,enjoy the Giro btw, if you are going to a mountain stage you DO need to go early ( not sure about the Giro) on some tour de france stages TWO days before for the best slots!!It is an amazing sight and the speed is unbelievable, proper tough athletes, give Mark a good cheer as he will be in a whole world of pain. Love your blog, happy travels.

  3. I am so pleased to have found you I am watching the tour de france and reading of the giro (hope you missed the awful weather ) and trying to find Aire for our trip next year to Gozo Malta via France Spain (he wants to go to Portugal)Italy/Sicily with a trip to Corsica and Sardinia in OUR HYMER….and am loving yr stories …thnx so much

    • Hi Susan

      Welcome on board team Dave! We watched the giro last year so got snow then sun on the day, perfect as it stopped us going too far up the mountain! The weather here has turned a bit, but after all the complaining we’ve done about it being too hot, we’re actually quite thankful. Not so good for photos, but makes it easier to sleep at night – pull down beds can get stuffy!

      Julie :)

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