Navigazione Orta (www.navigazioneorta.it) offers similar point-to-point shuttles, but also offers lake cruises in small boats, ranging from 30-minute trips to some of the lakeside villas (€9/£7.90 per person) to 1-hour private tours for up to 12 people €180/£158.
The small canoe Lago d’Orta (www.canoelagodorta.com) in a quiet spot five minutes north of town rents out one to four person canoes (from €9/£7.90 per hour), single and double paddleboards (from €12/£10.55), pedalos (€16/£14.05). hourly) and pedalos (€15/£13.15 hourly).
Or rent a choice of motorboats (no license required; five to eight passengers) from Explora Beach (www.explorabeach.com) from €120/£105.25 for half a day, €160/£130.35 for a full day, fuel included.
hiking and cycling
As an alternative to touring Orta on the water, you can rent a bike (www.ebikelagodorta.com). Towns and villages around the lake are no speck on Orta, but the views are captivating and a full route (40km) is easily covered in one day. If you want a shorter drive, head south and avoid the busy town of Omegna at the north end of the lake.
For an idyllic long lunch on a sunny day, take a taxi into the forested hills above the west coast and eat al fresco at La Topia (facebook.com/latopiadiorsanvenzo), where the menus change every few days and the cuisine is light, creative and seasonal.
If you have a car there are plenty of options, not least the short journey over the hills to explore neighboring Lake Maggiore where one of the main towns, Stresa, is just 26km away.
If you would like to explore both lakes and hike from one to the other over several days, Inntravel (01653 617001; inntravel.co.uk) is offering a seven-day self-guided hike from Lake Orta to Lake Maggiorre from £1,070 per person, including most meals but excluding flights.
The sound of silence
Isola d’Orta, the small island near the main town that gives the lake much of its scenic appeal, is easily reached by ferry. It’s an incredibly picturesque mix, dominated by a white cloister – dedicated to a closed order of about 60 nuns – built around a beautiful church whose largely Baroque interior contains fragments of medieval frescoes and a beautiful 12th-century pulpit Century preserved.