Take a little boat from Orta San Giullo piazza. 5 euro per adult is good value and the boats leave for the island every ten minutes or so.
As you go around the island in the boat you will see a wooden jetty on the northern shoreline. Make a note of it as we dangled our feet in the cool, sparkling water and next week I will remember to take my swimming stuff for a return trip, using this quiet jetty as my bathing point.
You get off at the main pier and there is a circular walk around the island. It's quaint, narrow and very, very peaceful. No cars here. Most of the big villas have monopolised the waterfront but there are a number of alleys to explore with superb views when you emerge by the lake.
There is only one restaurant on the island. Reviews by journalists in the British press say the menu is over complicated, which it definitely is. We didn't want a complex lunch but we noticed that the restaurant had a board outside advertising panini and other lite bites, which we hadn't expected. So we went through and they explained that the front rows of tables, neatly set, were for full dining. The rear tables, away from the lakeside, were for snackers like us. They're a bit austere by comparison. For us that's fine but others seemed a bit annoyed and left. I get the logic but I guess it's also an emotional thing for some. One party complained that they felt like poor relations and promptly left. For our part, it was ok but nothing more. I would suggest bringing some of your own filled rolls and enjoying them on the little jetty instead!
Complete your circular walk and wait by the pier in the shade for the return boat. We didn't enter the church for personal reasons but that would lengthen a visit if that's your thing.
For us, the highlight was the little jetty, playing cards while dangling our feet in the cool water, being bobbed up and down every time the wash from a boat arrived, the peace and reading our books in such beautiful surroundings.
A recommended half day excursion and not very expensive.
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