Don't make any noise, please, because on the Island of San Giulio the true silence of the soul has always reigned.
A single path runs around the island of San Giulio along its perimeter, an obligatory itinerary that welcomes the visitor from the waters and back to the waters, accompanying them to and fro. Those who pass through here, even the most wild and noisy tourist, inevitably respect the rule of silence, inspired by the atmosphere of meditation that reigns in this place that smells of history.
A few minutes by boat separate the island from the mainland and from the wonderful square of Orta, crowded on market Wednesdays as well as on spring Sundays. According to legend, San Giulio who landed on the Orta Riviera at the end of the 4th century, traveled the waters miraculously spreading his cloak and letting himself be guided in the storm by his stick. The saint freed the island from the snakes and dragons that had previously infested it and founded his hundredth church on this small strip of land.
A bench, an ajar gate, pebbles, glimpses of the lake that can be caught through the alleys. And then the piers, the gates of the villas, the basilica and the majestic palace of the Benedictine nuns: everything contributes to creating a suggestive and profound atmosphere. On the other hand, we must not forget that this place houses the Mater Ecclesiae abbey, a cloistered convent where a community of nuns lives who are dedicated to prayer, study and the restoration of ancient tapestries. The nuns also take care of preparing the hosts for religious services and of making the famous "bread of San Giulio" which is blessed and distributed on the occasion of the patronal feast, at the end of January.
What were once the homes of the canons, are today wonderful villas, private, elegant and fascinating residences. One of the oldest residences was owned by Cesare Augusto Tallone, builder of handcrafted pianos and highly esteemed Toscanini tuner. For this reason, every year, classical music concerts are organized inside the villa in which young and promising talents perform. Another prestigious event is also worth mentioning, "Poetry on the lake", a poetry festival organized by Gabriel Griffin, a Welsh writer transplanted to Italy and residing on the island for years.
In these difficult times, it is lovely to walk the "way of silence", looking up from time to time and taking in the suggestions scattered along the way, where aphorisms on meditation and awareness are recorded. It is also wonderful to let yourself be overtaken by a spirit of peace, remembering that "every journey begins nearby" and that, in reality, "the walls are only in the mind".