Isola San Giulio

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Isola San Giulio
Isola San Giulio, with Orta San Giulio behind

Isola San Giulio or San Giulio Island (Italian: Isola di San Giulio) is an island within Lake Orta in Piedmont, northwestern Italy. The island is 275 metres (902 feet) long (north/south), and is 140 metres (459 feet) wide (east/west). The most famous building on the island is the Basilica of Saint Giulio close to which you can see the monumental old Seminary (1840s). Since 1976 it has been transformed into a Benedictine monastery. The little island, just west of the lakeshore village of Orta San Giulio, has very picturesque buildings, and takes its name from a local patron saint (Julius of Novara), who lived in the second half of the 4th century.

History[edit]

In the 5th century, a small chapel (oratorium) was erected on the island, probably to commemorate the great evangelizer Saint Julius, who had died there. We know from archaeological finds that a new, bigger church already existed in the 6th century: here Filacrio, the bishop of Novara, asked to be buried. In the same time an octagonal building - probably a baptistery - was erected in the middle of the island. Unfortunately every trace of it has been cancelled in the 19th century when the massive building of the Seminary was built. In the 12th century a new romanesque basilica was built, thus altering the previous one to some extent.

The great religious reformer William of Volpiano (Saint William of Dijon) was born on the island in 962, in the fortified castle located on the island, whose large walls were called "Queen Willa's walls" from the name of king Berengario II's wife.

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