Noto - Capital of Sicilian Baroque - Sicilyincoming

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Noto is one of the most beautiful cities in Sicily, defined as “stone garden of Europe”. It has an architectonic overview that is unique in the world for the unity and harmony of Baroque style that is truly splendid, emphasized by the natural beauty of the rosè colour of the stone used to build the town.
Neas is believed to have been founded by Sican populations, at the time of the fall of Troy, on the Mendola hill. Falling into the hands of the Syracuse conquerors, the town assimilated Hellenic customs and rites, and was raised to the rank of a “gymnasium”.
Coming under the Roman domination, as declared a Latin ‘municipium’, a singular condition which brought the town considerable privileges, like that of being able to govern itself with its own laws.
Conquered by the Arabs, who made it a highly armed stronghold, it took the present name and was the capital of one of the three “valleys” into which they subdivided Sicily.
After two centuries of Islamic domination, in 1090 Noto negotiated surrender with Roger.
The history of Noto has been determined not so much by men as by nature: in 1693 it was destroyed by the earthquake which struck all south-western Sicily. Conceived of like a big theatre without wings, as a big and open, lively and flowing town, Noto returned to life, sumptuous and superb, on the side of the Meti hill, on the southern slopes of the Iblei mountains. The architectural vicissitudes of the new town were dominated by the artistic fancy of three architects, Rosario Gagliardi, Vincenzo Sinatra and Paolo Labisi, who succeeded in developing an amazing masterpiece showing architectural unity.
These were three different personalities which, though living and working in the provinces, conferred on the town an original impress which goes beyond the rigid Baroque idiom, being enriched with Renaissance, pseudo-Spanish and neo-classical elements and giving life to a fanciful and dreamy style.
Noto should be visited carefully, without hurrying, in order to realize that every corner and every stone holds a surprise.

The triumphal arch

The triumphal arch, along the main thoroughfare, marks the start of the town. Surmounted by three symbolic sculptures - a tower with battlements (power), a dog (fidelity) and a pelican (sacrifice) - the monument was erected during a visit to Noto of Ferdinand II of Bourbon, who inaugurated it in 1838. The royal gate was built in the typical golden calcareous stone used in the previous century for churches and palaces in the town.

The San Francesco all’Immacolata Church

The San Francesco all’ Immacolata Church rises at the top of an imposing flight of steps at the right of the main thoroughfare. It was built, together with the annexed convent, in 1704-1745. The church has a single nave, in accordance with the Franciscan custom. All white, the walls are decorated with rococo style stuccoes.

The Santa Chiara Church

The Santa Chiara Church, by Gagliardi, a delicate Baroque expression, was built in 1785. The interior, small and oval, decorated with stuccoes and putty, has its rhythm marked out by twelve columns, and it is one of the most interesting examples of spatial solutions by this architect.

The Santissimo Salvatore Monastery

The Santissimo Salvatore monastery is the biggest edifice in the town, built in 1710-1791 on a rectangular area of 11,000 square metres. On the first floor flat twin pillars frame the big windows, whose rich decoration is reminiscent of the Portuguese plateresque style. Then follows a protruding wing which acts as a key in the construction conception; it rises imposingly like a tower over buildings and cupolas around it, and leaves no doubt about the superiority of this monastery compared to other orders. This impression is emphasised by the rich stone decoration and the railings in wrought iron.

The Santissimo Salvatore Church

The Santissimo Salvatore Church, built at the end of the 18th century, rises in a big square. Its particular feature lies in the traces, in the façade, of the transition from Baroque to Classicism.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral, which stands at the top of a monumental staircase,  was begun just a few months after the earth quake, but was only completed in 1770. The façade, devoid of ornaments and extravagances, incorporates Baroque motifs and classical elements. The three naves of the church are divided by high pillars with double pilasters. In the chapel at the back of the right nave the silver ark of the patron saint of the town, San Corrado, is kept.

Palazzo Ducezio

Opposite the cathedral there is Palazzo Ducezio, which houses the Town Hall. Designed by the architect Sinatra, the palace, raised with respect to the square in which it stands, was built in 1746-1830 with a single floor. A hundred years ago a second floor was superimposed on it which has damaged the original neo-classical look. Of interest, inside, is the representation room, rich in gilding and stuccoes.

Palazzo Villadorata

Not far away there is Palazzo Villadorata, which looks out on Via Nicolaci, a narrow side street. The broad façade is enlivened by protruding balconies in wrought iron held up by all sorts of ledges, with human and animal figures amid volutes and arabesques, the most extreme manifestation of Noto Baroque. Built in 1731, the palace, which for a long time was the residence of the princes of Villadorata, was recently largely purchased by the town council. In it there are ninety rooms, and in the ceilings there are 18th century frescoes. In May in Via Nicolaci there is a traditional flower procession.

The Crocifisso Church

The Crocifisso Church is the second one in the town after the cathedral. It stands in the upper part of Noto, in Piazza Mazzini. Designed by Gagliardi (1715), it is the richest church in works of art. Inside there are two, column-bearing lions from the Romanesque epoch, recovered from the ruins of the Crocifisso church in the old town; there is also the white marble statue of the Madonna della Neve done in 1471 by Francesco Laurana.

The Montevergine Church

At the end the street is closed off by the Montevergine Church, attributed to the architect Sinatra. On the outside it is concave in shape, closed off between two lateral towers; inside there is only one nave, along which there are Corinthian columns.

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Noto: Capital of Sicilian Baroque. The City is included in UNESCO World Heritage in July 2002.
Area: 554 km²
Elevation: 80 m
Population: 24 047
Population name: Notinesi or Netini
Area code: 0931
Zip Code: 96017
Geographic Location: South-Eastern Sicily
Patron Saint: Corrado Confalonieri


- 19th February and the last Sunday in August: Feast of the Patron St. Corrado Gonfalonieri
Corrado Confalonieri was a knight from Piacenza "saved from the fire by the Hand of God", which decided to turn into an hermit in Sicily. He came in Noto and choose a cave named "dei Pizzoni" to live in. Every year during the feast, the singular urn (which contains the Saint's body) is preceded by the Brotherhoods and the "Cili" (big decorative candles). This urn is brought on the shoulders by Bearers and is followed by the Citizens Band and the church-goers, which choose to follow the ceremony barefoot from their town till the town centre.
- 3rd Sunday in May: the Flower show “Infiorata”

Every year, the third Sunday of May is dedicated to the Infiorata. This event was born twenty-six year old of a meeting with flowering artists of Genzano. In fact it was the town of Genzano, near Rome, which developed this pictorial technique. Today the Infiorata of Noto is considered among the most beautiful events in Sicily. Music, exhibitions, cultural and sacred tours animate the city and they are complementary to the main event, the Infiorata: a spectacular carpet of flowers that local artists prepare along Via Nicolaci street following a different theme each year from religion, mythology and popular culture.
- July-August: International Festival of Music and Noto’s summer
It is a summer festival of art and music: movies, theatre reviews, classic and jazz music concerts, musicals, art exhibitions. Moreover, wine and food shows of local kitchen, sport competitions and tournaments, popular feasts and folk shows.


- Ravioli with ricotta cheese
- Desert Cassatine filled with ricotta cheese
- Muscat of Noto D.O.C. wine since 1974
- Eloro of Noto wine D.O.C. since 1994


By car: Noto can be reached by A18 (ME-CT-SR) and A19 (PA-CT-SR) highways, Bivio Cassibile junction - S.S. 115  

By train: Noto is connected to the main Italian cities by the State Railway Network.
FF.SS. Information  - 848888088 (free call)

By bus: daily links with major towns (AST and INTERBUS)
Tickets - at Bar Efirmedio near the bus station on Largo  Pantheon -  0931835023

AST  - 840 000323

INTERBUS - 0935 22460

By plane: the nearest airport is “Fontanarossa” in Catania (80km)


Location: Piazza XVI Maggio
Info: 0931896654

Opening hours: from 9:00 to 13:00 & from 15:00 to 20:00 (from 9:00 to 13:00 & from 15:00 to 19:00 in winter)

''Pro-Noto'' Tourist Association
Location: Via Gioberti 13
Info: 0931836503

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