Portofino, Genoa, Liguria, Italy

Portofino is a town with about 500 inhabitants in the province of Genoa in Liguria. For its administration, it is the smallest area of the municipality of the province. It is considered one of the most typical and most picturesque villages of the world. It is located in the western part of Tigullio, in a bay at the foot of the promontory of the same name, 36 km from Genoa. The entire municipality is in the Regional Natural Park of Portofino and the natural marine protected area. You can walk its safe paths because they are all appropriately marked. Several films have been shot in Portofino and it is a major tourist attraction and there are frequently cultural events with the participation of personalities from the world of culture and entertainment.

Tips

If you like shopping, you’ll find expensive boutiques, economic souvenir shops and even small artisan shops.
If you prefer walking, Via Roma is the busiest street; you can take it at the port and continue upward.
If you want to relax, there is nothing better than walking in the Piazzetta harbor and take a good ice cream or just a coffee or something to eat at an outdoor table watching the activity of the port.
Another great way to reach Portofino is by sea aboard a boat with these tourist trips organized by several neighboring localities.
For the best views of the village, visit the Brown Castle also known as the Fortress of San Giorgio; the church of San Giorgio and Punta Portofino with its romantic lighthouse.

Lake of Orta, Novara, Italy

The lake of Orta or Cusio is a small Alpine lake in the province of Novara and Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, in Northern Italy. Located entirely in the region of Piedmont, Lake Orta is one of the most romantic and quiet in the plain of the Po. Lake Orta is parallel to Lake Maggiore, which is separated by the mount Mottarone (1,491 m) and is located on the road to Domodossola in Novara. It is the western most of the Alpine Lakes created by the glacier of the Simplon, its waters out to the North to join the Toce (via the Strona) then Lake Maggiore. It is 13.4 km long and 2.5 km wide with a perimeter of 33.5 km and an area of 15,15 km with a maximum depth of 143 metres. It is located at an altitude of 292 metres (100 m higher than Lake Maggiore). San Giulio island it is 400 metres from the shore where regular shuttle buses make the trip from Orta. Towns on the Lake are Omegna (important industrial center and tourist resort), Orta San Giulio (charming small medieval town) and Miasino. Since prehistoric times, it operates on its surroundings iron deposits.

Tips

If you like walking, it is the ideal place, full of charm. to visit in any season of the year because the landscape will enchant you every time. In winter, the Alps covered with snow at the background give all the beauty and majesty to the place.
A visit to the island of San Giulio, is required.
If you want to buy typical products of the region, visit the lake from Orta San Giulio, where you will find some shops that sell (different kinds of salami, sausages, cheese, beverages, etc.). You will also find several cafés, bars, restaurants and ice cream parlors, to taste something while you enjoy the natural scenery.

The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso, Leggiuno, Varese, Italy

The hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso is a monastery built overlooking the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore in Leggiuno, Varese. The construction of the complex is from the twelfth century; Alberto Besozzi of Arolo, dealer and lender, survivor of a shipwreck during a lake crossing, vowed to St. Catherine of Alexandria to settle there for the rest of his life in prayer and solitude in a cave on this stretch of coast. He built a chapel to the saint that we can still see at the back of the church. The relics of Blessed Albert, are inside the church. In the fourteenth century there was the construction of two churches dedicated to St Mary and San Nicolas, which were added to the complex. On the church’s facade, we find four arches that are the remains of a fresco cycle and, seen from the lake, there is the bell tower of the fourteenth century. The oldest part is the chapel from 1195, located at a lower level compared to other parts of the church, which took the size of the tomb of St. Catherine in the Sinai and on the outside, near the window there are some pictures of the transfer of the body of the saint (by the angels) at Mount Sinai. The complex is considered a national monument since 1914. It was restored and reopened in eighty years. It is currently supported by some Benedictine Oblates. The present church has five parts, initially separated, are now they’re four chapels, while the fifth is the chapel where lies Alberto Besozzi. The church is covered with many beautiful frescoes. There is also an organ and a statue of the Virgin and Child (seventeenth century). The hermitage is accessible by foot through a staircase that connects the Quicchio on one side, small group of houses, with parking for cars and a place to eat something, with the other, recently completed, that gives service from the navigation of Lago Maggiore.

Tips

If you can not take the stairs, there is a lift ($), built into the rock, which brings you to the church.
The place is very nice for a walk and to take wonderful photos of its beautiful surroundings.
In summer, there is a direct bus from Laveno. The nearest train station is Sangiano on the Luino-Milan line (3km). You can also reach the place with the lake navigation service.