June every year brings three days of enchantment to Lake Orta with the Cusio Festival of Ancient Music, organised by the Vittorio Cocito “Friends of Music” Association.
The Festival takes its listeners into a bygone age with a range of musical offerings, such as Baroque symphonies for mandola, love songs, sonatas and ballate for trumpets, pifferos and bombards, and stately Gregorian chants.
These concerts of Italian and European medieval music are performed on stringed, wind and percussion instruments by groups from all over the world.
The prime venue for the Festival’s concerts is the Eleonora Tallone Room in the 18th century Villa Tallone on the Island of San Giulio. The Villa is called after the internationally renowned piano maker Cesare Augusto Tallone (1895 – 1982), who was the official piano tuner of celebrated musicians like Arturo Toscanini, Edwin Fisher and Alfred Cortot, and who lived in the Villa.
On the occasion of the concerts burning torches are hung on the doorways, and the staff wear period costumes, enhancing the medieval atmosphere suggested by the villa and the evocative backdrop of Isola San Giulio.