Navigazione Lago D’orta

Lake Orta, Italy | C.1878

Photo Credit: @bradibus

This boat service on Lake Orta in Piedmont, Italy has been a vital channel for trade, tourism and communications between the villages along the lake’s shores for over a century.

Lake Orta lies between the provinces of Novara and Verbania in Northern Italy. In the middle ages it was known as San Giulio’s lake, and it was only at the beginning of the 17th century that the name Lake Orta was adopted from the main town on the coast.

A steamer service began operations in November 1878, which consisted of three boats – the Cusio, the Mergozzolo and the Umberto I. They offered passenger services for just nine years before going out of business. Several Italian entrepreneurs attempted private ventures over the years, but none were successful until 1910, at which point Lake Orta functioned as the venue for Italy’s national rowing championship.

With great interest on the part of the press and the local population, the steamship “Riviera” was transferred to Lake Orta from the Italian Riviera, a much more popular sea route, and passenger service started up again.

In 1935, however, there was another setback for the commercial development of the lake when the steamer “Principe di Piemonte” was destroyed by a fire, crippling passenger services on Lake Orta once again. Transportation enterprises just couldn’t catch a break on this body of water, but they seem to be doing well today. Four ships now transport passengers across Lake Orta – the Azalea, the Ortensia, the Camelia and the newest addition – the Valentina.

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