To those thinking of coming : We suggest poets apply to Arts Council for funding. They have funded poets to come for past editions. (But they won't fund Poetry on the Lake - "no wide British public". No, not in Italy!)
Nearest airport is Milan Malpensa. This is roughly 50 minutes by road from Orta. There is a new direct bus service Malpensa Orta, summer season, at least! (At last, after years of my suggesting!). Cost: only 10 euro each way.
n.b. you must book before midday of the day before you wish to travel : (0039) 0322 844862 or email comazziborgo(at)legalmail.it
Malpensato Orta: 7.30 - 9.45 - 12.00 - 15.30 - 17.45 - 20.00 Board at bus stop 12, airport terminal 1, ticket on board
Orta to Malpensa: 6.36 - 8.51 - 11.06 - 14.36 - 16.51 - 19.06 . Board at Piazzale Prarondo
Taxi Malpensa-Orta costs 140 euro (2008) for one to four passengers. Cheaper to get hotel to send taxi to meet (85 euro in 2008)
Train: from Milan Central Station usually at 15 mins past each hour (not every hour, though) Platform 3 or 4 to Torino Porta Nuova. Change at Novara to Domodossola line, train usually at platform 7,8 or 9).
Novara to Orta-Miasino trains depart: 9.10* - 12.23 - 13.50 - 15.19 - 16.32 - 17.32 - 18.22 - 19.20
*(bus outside station) Novara - Orta is 55 minutes.
Ticket for Orta-Miasino
Orta station is a kilometre and a half uphill from the lake, ask at the bar for a taxi to Orta centre (10 or 20 euros) or if you see the toy train, take that down to Orta. Walking down takes about 25 minutes.
Other airports are Milan-Linate and Bergamo Orio al Serio. For those without hire cars it is necessary to go to Milan Central Station by airport shuttle and then take a train to Arona, then taxi (about 50 euros) to Orta . Or go to from Milan Central to Novara and change (see above).
Those arriving by car from Milan or Turin take the autostrada (from Milan autostrada dei laghi) in the direction of Gravellona Toce and exit at Arona. Turn left at the end of the motorway and then shortly you will see Lake Orta signposted.
Hand luggage you can take with you in the cabin is best. Malpensa is notorious for delays in unloading, losing and thieving from baggage.
Comfortable shoes - Orta has cobbled streets - a sweater, a light mac and brolly, just in case. Orta is 1000 feet above sea level, in the mountains. Even when sunny and warm by day it's cool-to-cold in the evenings.
Staying (in descending order of price)
Villa Crespi is Arabian Nights luxury (in theory) and Nouvelle Cuisine 15 minutes walk from centre. 4 star Hotel San Rocco, on the lake near centre with swimming pool and terraces. The entire hotel has just undergone complete renovation and offers 10% discounts to participants (mention POTL when booking). (0039) 0322 911977 . www.hotelsanrocco.it
Hotel Leon d'Or, on the lake in main square, renovated recently. Samuel Butler stayed at the Leon d'Or. Probably that was where Nietzsche stayed, too.
And poets like the Contrada dei Monti, a pretty, small hotel very near the centre,offering B/B to poets at 80 euro for single, 100 euro for a double, per night (2009). info(at)lacontradadeimonti.it tel: (+39) 0322 905114. However, unless you are a gnome or a fairy, say no to an attic room.
Both the above hotels offer discounts for the festival weekend, quote Poetry on the Lake when booking.
The Piccolo Hotel Olina is not a hotel as we know one but has rooms here and there in old buildings over the centre, plus two hotels, one in the main square, the Hotel Araceli (sheer glass showers in the centre of bedrooms !, two large double beds occupying most of floor space) and another hotel 20 minutes walk uphill, Santa Caterina. All say their breakfasts are the best ever!
Hotel Orta now closed.
comments from a participant 2008: "hotels in Orta seem to have been decorated by Miss Haversham."
and, over the bay (good if you come by car) Hotel L'Approdo, Pettenasco. www.lagodortahotels.com
Independent bedroom with bathroom quiet situation in Orta centre at very reasonable price, phone 0322-90337 (English) day or 347-2570434 (english/italian). or email poetry on the lake .
Hotel San Rocco, expensive.. If you want to splash out, Villa Crespi, Michelin star.Even more expensive.
The Leon d'Or is good. More modestly, the Edera, just off main square and there is a pizzeria liked by poets, La Campana, in Via Giovanetti. Most of the bars in Orta serve food. For excellent wine, the Enoteca in the square and the charming Beuch in Via Besani, a candle-lit cellar which serves good wines, cheese and salami platters and the local speciality Bagna Cauda, cruditè in a dip of hot olive oil, anchovy and garlic.
Excellent local honeys, cheeses, salami and dried Porcini mushrooms. Wine, of course, from vineyards of the region.