The lakes of northern Italy are popular tourist destinations, but some are more well-known than others. Lake Orta, for instance, is much less visited than its famous neighbor, Lake Maggiore. Orta is significantly smaller than Lake Maggiore and slightly further from Milan, so it's not surprising that most tourists head for others in the area. Many Milanese, however, spend their lakeside vacations at Lake Orta specifically because it's less crowded.
One of the picturesque charms of Lake Orta is the sweet little island at its center. Isola San Giulio is home to a basilica, a monastery, and not much else. Around Lake Orta there are towns with smaller hotels, but this isn't the tourist-centered experience of Lake Maggiore or Lake Como. Come to Lake Orta to really get away.
Lake Orta is roughly an hour from Milan's Malpensa Airport if you rent a car. Alternatively, you can take a train from Milan to Orta San Giulio on the lake's southeastern shore in about 2.5 hours (with a change in Novara).