The retreat center I’m staying at has an incredible view overlooking Lake Orta, and since I’ve been staring at it from a distance for the past week, I figured it was time to see up close. I, and my two friends Liza and Chi, decided to hike down to the town of Omegna, which is situated on the northwestern most point of Lake Orta. We filled our day packs with snacks and our swimming suits, and set off for a fun day of hiking, swimming, and shopping around Lake Orta, in beautiful Omegna Italy.
There are a total of eight hikes in the surrounding areas of Lake Orta. They range in difficulty level and duration. We were actually staying in the mountains, near the tiny village of Quarna Sopra, located about 50 miles from the Malpensa Airport in Milan, Italy. Fortunately, one of the hikes starts at the back gate of the resort. From there it was all downhill, on a cobblestone path cutting through the forest. Half way down we came upon a charming little church, built about 200 years ago. Out front there was a fountain with fresh spring water where thirsty hikers can fill their water bottles. It took us about an hour to make it down to the town.
Omegna (pronounced with the G silent) is in the Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, in the region of Piedmont, Italy. They call it a comune, but don’t confuse it with the word commune, because it’s not full of free-loving hippies (except for me). A comune is the term they use for a municipality in Italy. Omegna is a quaint town, with a population of about 15,000, and is situated on the banks of Orta Lake. We wanted to do some shopping for basic supplies and souvenirs, but the shops were all closed for the afternoon siesta. The siesta in Italy is quite long, about three hours. So, as a result, we had a couple of hours to kill and decided it would be a good time to go swimming.
Orta Lake is about 9 miles long and about 2 miles wide. I was surprised that here wasn’t a lot of activity on the lake for a warm, late summer day. Aside from a couple of boats, we were the only ones swimming. We soon found out why! It was very cold! We only swam for about 10 minutes but it was refreshing and clean water. As we were getting out another swimmer was going in, but he had a wet-suit on and a buoy tied to his waste. We figured he was preparing for some sort of long distance swim, but it was only a guess.
After our swim, we enjoyed some shopping. I found a couple of yoga pants and a gorgeous moonstone ring. We indulged in some ice cream and then headed back up the mountain. All in all, it was a delightful way to spend the day in Omegna, Italy.