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The island of San Giulio Print E-mail



Isola di san giulio sella sua magnificenza immersa nelle acque blu del lago d'Orta


The Island of San Giulio is today a place of great misticism. Here was born on 962 William of Volpiano, during the siege to Queen Willa by Emperor Otto, King Berengario II's wife, who had taken the Island from the Bishop of Novara. The big central building was a Castle. The island was the governor 's seat that represented the bishop. On 1842 it was destroyed to build on it a seminary. Now there is a Benedictin monastery that helps giving more mistic power to a place that is by nature immersed in the silence. Between 1593 and 1615, a decisive role in the continuation of the project was played by the Bishop of Novara, Carlo Bescapè; he was concerned that the complex should be a strictly organised centre of devotion, in line with the ideas which had inspired the Council of Trento, and more particulary with the interpretation of the Counter-Reformation given by Carlo Borromeo in the diocese of Milanersed in the silence.
The Basilica of San Giulio was originally founded by St. Giulio in 390. During the siege of Otto 1st (956 - 962) the church was seriously damaged and only the central apse was saved. After year 962 the canons had the privilege on the territory of the Island signed by Otto the Great , so they dedicated themselves to the reconstruction of the church. The tower was added during the 11th - 12th century In the Basilica the frescoes were certainly begun very early, and re-done at various times. Of the datables the oldest frescoe is aged 1421. But the greatest work of art in the Basilica is the ambo. The pulpit is carved out of grey-green serpentine from the Oira quarry. The sculptures represent the Evangelists. The figure sculpted among the eagle and the lion is probably Guglielmo of Volpiano.
The elegant houses on the lake were the canon's residences: in 1763 each of them was called after a Saint to recognise them easily. During the month of June, in Villa Tallone takes place the Festival of Ancient Music. This prestigious event is organized by the Association "Amici della Musica" of Novara. During the Sundays of September take place the Piano Concerts of the "Settembre musicale di San Giulio".


An ancient legend relates that the island of San Giulio was infested with dragons and serpents, so no one dared approach it until Julius, a Holy traveller who had fled from the Christian persecutions in fourth-century Greece, laid his cloak on the water, walked over it and reached the island without getting wet. Julius vanquished the serpents and chose to stay on this island. In 390 he then went on to build a church. A new church was erected in the ninth century and the eleventh century, which even today is dedicated to the Saint.



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