Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


Quieting The Mind And Spirit: A Journey To The Island Of Silence

While many yearn for peace on Earth, I would be content with a few minute, hours, or days of peace and quiet. We inhabit a world of noise, disturbance, and distress, bidden and unbidden. Even if we can shut off the radio, television, lawn care guys with leaf-blowers, planes overhead, trains/buses/cars outside, the clacking of office machines and household appliances, the audiovisual assault of video games, jackhammers, barking dogs (not those belonging to you moosies, of course), beeping gadgets alerting us, and other threats to sanity, there’s still the inner noise of our thoughts and fears.

What if we could just shut it all off, even for an hour or two?

Today, I’d like to provide you noise-stressed moosies with an armchair journey to the Island of Silence for some peaceful contemplation.

Island of Silence Sign

Situated in the Piedmont of Italy, the Island of Silence is a short trip from Milan.

Italy Lakes Region Map

While the larger lakes like Lago Como and Lago Maggiore get a lot of tourist action, the smaller Lago D’Orta is considered by many to be the most beautiful of the bunch.

Lago D'Orta Isola San Giulio

The Island of Silence is properly known as Isola San Giulio, seen here from nearby Orta San Giulio.

San Giulio, for whom the place (Orta) and the island (Isola) are named, springs from an interesting legend… (this site has some beautiful photos you might want to check out)

Legend has it that St Guilio (or Julius of Novara in English) founded his one hundredth church here in the fourth century AD. It is just west of the charming village of Orta San Giulio (also named after Julius of Novara). The island was the lair of a giant serpent, which used the island as a launch pad to attack local villages. Yet St Guilio arrived and with his ability to command the waves he journeyed over the water on his cloak and banished the creature from the island.

Mmmm… okay. The good news is that you moosies that worry about snakes should have one less thing to concern yourselves with. Really, there is hardly any room for snakes, as the island is only 275 meter

If you never made it to Isola San Giulio, that would be a shame, but Orta San Giulio is a fascinating and beautiful place on the shore.

Orta San Giulio Buildings

Even the cats are relaxed and stress-free in Orta San Giulio, as this much-posted photo can attest:

Cat Stonewall Orta San Giulio

Once you’ve had a stroll around Orta San Giulio, it’s only a short boat trip to Isola San Giulio, which will further add to your newly relaxed state of mind. The actual boat is only a little bigger than this one, with a trolling motor, but this one is much prettier, so please forgive my capitulation to aesthetics over technical accuracy.

Rowboat Emanuela Lake Orta

Once you step onto Isola San Giulio, you can see that space is at a premium. Every available bit of land – and overhead space – has been built upon, always with attention to form and function.

Lago D'Orta alley

You’ll also begin to feel a sense of calm as you walk the ancient roads and paths and take in the beauty of the buildings. Everything on the island is built of stone. Clearly, it wasn’t transported in those charming little boats that transport visitors to the island. Something tells me that there might have been some less than contemplative utterances in the course of all that construction work.

Lago D'Orta balcony and basilica

Anchoring the island is the Basilica San Giulio:

Lago D'Orta Basilica

The current edifice is the culmination of centuries of construction, as is often the case with churches and wealthy patrons keen on outdoing their predecessors:

After St Giulio’s death a small chapel was erected on the island in the fifth century (this was after the Christian religion was decriminalized by the powers that be in Rome and persecution had ended). Archeology has revealed a much bigger church there in the sixth century.

A baptistery was also established in the middle of the island at about the same time. Yet in the nineteenth century a seminary was built there, erasing any record of its existence. For the last three decades it has been a Benedictine monastery. There is an air of peace over the entire island, perhaps because of the presence of this contemplative institution.

The pathways that ring the island and weave through these venerable buildings form the Way of Silence, and visitors are encouraged to STFU observe appropriate silent and contemplative demeanor befitting the monsastic surroundings. It’s well worth the effort to do so.

Perhaps you have your own Island of Silence available within travel distance – a place in the woods, the mountains, on a lake, or just in your mind. Spend some time there whenever you can. It’s as important to your physical and mental health as fresh air, healthy food, and a good night’s sleep. There’s plenty of room in that little boat for all you moosies if you’re willing to squish together for a wonderful journey.