The Special Nature Reserve of the Sacro Monte di Orta

Do you like mountain landscapes? Did you know the beautiful Lake Orta in Italy? In these areas you could experience natural wonders never seen before. We are talking about the Special Nature Reserve of the Sacro Monte di Orta, now managed together with the Special Nature Reserve of Mount Mesma and the Special Nature Reserve of the Colle della Torre di Buccione. It was born in 1980 to combine the sacredness of a unique place with its environmental enhancement. 


The Reserve protects the promontory behind Orta San Giulio, a hill that reaches 400 meters above sea level, from which the gaze sweeps over the village, Lake Orta and the Island of San Giulio. The territory, extended for approx. 13 hectares, contains two environments: the wood, mainly of broad-leaved trees, and the sacred area, where the environment is cared for by man. 


Already in the design phase of the Sacro Monte di Orta, between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particular attention was also paid to the natural environment that was to enclose the sacred path. The relationship between man and nature had to be taken care of down to the smallest detail, especially since the majestic Via Sacra was dedicated to the minstrel of God and his natural works, St. Francis of Assisi

Over the centuries, the care of man has meant that the initial natural environment changed, and more ornamental and wilder species were combined: therefore, the wooded area also welcomes beeches, linden trees, Scots pines, while the paths and hedges that guide visitors are home to laurel, boxwood and hollies. 


The path of the 20 chapels dedicated to episodes from the life of San Francesco, immersed in the gentle slopes of the promontory, culminates in the churchyard of the Church of San Nicola di Mira, or San Nicolao, still officiated today by the minor friars, who live in an adjacent convent. Sacred and profane meet in a fascinating place: on the one hand the religious spirit of the Sacro Monte di Orta, on the other the marvel of the views and the final panorama of Lake Orta.