Often overlooked thanks to its more famous neighbours like Como, Lake Orta is a place of tranquility and peace and less touristy, located just over an hour or so from Milan in Italy. Mysterious and ethereal, it is no surprise the place has attracted artists and writers over the centuries. We spent four days there, located right on the water’s edge in a friendly hotel with its very own berth for boats.

IMG_20151017_231616-1The visit included a number of smaller swims in the gorgeous waters that were so clear and clean, you didn’t mind if you swallowed any of it as it tasted so good. The water temperature was around 18 degrees, meaning wetsuits were a necessity for most. John by chance made friends with a local sailing club, who just happened to be celebrating the naming of one of their new yachts whilst we were using their facilities one morning. Cue glasses of prosecco and some fine Italian food for all that was difficult to resist before heading into the water.


St Julian Island - SwimQuest The highlight of the trip undoubtedly though was our swim to ‘Isola San Giulio.’

Due to our wide range of abilities in the water we set off at different times from the lakeside, all finally meeting as we approached the island. It felt like being part of a James Bond or similar spy movie as we swam ninja style around to our finishing point – the one restaurant on the island situated directly on the waters edge. I think we made quite a mark on the groups of tourists who happened to be peering down from the ancient walls of the island at that point, into the lake. I don’t think they quite expected to see a school of dark figures, clad in wetsuits gliding through the water as if on a mission.


As we reached the berth for the restaurant the church bell on the island began to toll just by chance but it felt like it was marking our arrival. We had made it! Our only issue at this point was changing, much to the amusement of the restaurant clientele who looked on from their Sunday lunch as we entered the warm inviting interior in our swimming gear. Myself and my friend Sonia found a small tree to quickly change behind – though of course classic timing just as we were stripped to our undies a group of old Italians walked by! SwimQuester Becky Horsburgh


All we cared about though was dinner – and being able to celebrate our swim in style in the restaurant. The food was wonderful – the odd brandy was definitely needed as well – and it was a superb way to round off a magical swim. If you fancy adventure plus fine food, great Italian hospitality and a truly idyllic setting somewhat off the beaten track then this is the place for you.

Thanks Becky! Looking forward to seeing you on another trip soon. We return to Lago D’Orta this October 7-10. 

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