The splendour of the baroque
In an area where there are abundant crops of olives and almond trees, Noto is a small baroque jewel perched on a plateau overlooking the Asinaro valley, covered with citrus.
So harmonious and beautiful as to seem a fiction, the city was born from a tragic event: the earthquake of 1693.
Before then rose to 10 km of distance and had very ancient origins. For the reconstruction was chosen a place less harsh and more broad, allowing the realization of a simple, linear, with intersections at right angles and parallel streets and wide, according to the new baroque style.
The city was built mainly using the local limestone, which, colored by time, has taken those golden tones that at sunset become even more warm and enveloping.
The plant is extremely scenic, obtained by studying and “making” the prospects in a unique way, playing with the lines and the curvature of the façades, decorated brackets, curls and volutes, masks, cherubs and balconies from wrought iron railings that fold into the graceful shapes and bulging.
Among the many sicilian artists that collaborated for the reconstruction must be mentioned: Paolo Labisi, Vincenzo Sinatra and Rosario Gagliardi.
The main axis is Corso Vittorio Emanuele, punctuated by three squares, each with a church. At the beginning of the course, there is the Porta Reale, a monumental entrance in the shape of a triumphal arch, erected in the NINETEENTH century.
Behind lies a tree-lined avenue flanked by a beautiful Public Garden, one of the meeting places of the inhabitants.
Town Hall square is the most majestic of the three squares, bounded on the left by the harmonious curved lines of the Palazzo Ducezio, and on the right by the Cathedral.
The latter, characterized by a wide façade and marked by two towers, a glimpse of the remains of the dome collapsed in 1996, with a large part of the central nave. The building is preceded by a very large and sinuous, sloping steps in the square and flanked by two aisles lined with tall trees.
To the sides of the Cathedral you can admire the Bishop’s Palace (XIX sec.) and the Palazzo Landolina of Saint Alfano, with their curved lines seem to counterbalance the exuberance of the other buildings.
Continuing along corso Vittorio Emanuele, on the right side opens the via Nicolaci: it is slightly uphill and is closed upstream from the lovely concave facade of the Church of Montevergini, sandwiched between two bell towers. The two sides of this road are a succession of beautiful baroque buildings, among which, on the left, stands the Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata, characteristic for its balconies, exuberant, supported by brackets fanciful in the form of cherubs, horses, mermaids, lions and grotesque figures.
The last square that we meet along the main axis is the piazza XVI Maggio, which is dominated by the elegant convex façade of the Church of S. Domenico, in front of which lies the delightful Villetta d’ercole with fountain in the centre named. Opposite, stands the nineteenth-century Teatro Vittorio Emanuele III. All around the regular system of the eighteenth century to the historical center, there are the popular neighborhoods, characterized by narrow, winding and often labyrinthine alleys that distinguish the medieval villages.
Since 2002, the Unesco declared the city world Heritage site.
With regard to the wealth of the territory, besides the above-mentioned cultivation of olives, almonds and citrus fruits, Noto is also famous for the production of his muscat, said the “Pali io”. This wine can be natural, sparkling or fortified.
Worthy of note, the third Sunday of may, an event that is eagerly awaited is the “Spring Baroque”, events and concerts, craft exhibitions, parade of antique carriages, and flowery floats, culminating in the “Infiorata di Via Nicolaci”, a spectacular carpet of flowers prepared by local artists along the way, each year showing scenes and iconographic themes different.
Noto is a city of art and culture, far from the large tourist flows from the so-called “mass”. As a result, there is not the noisy succession of souvenir shops and trinkets, pubs, fast-food and sandwich shops that crowd the other tourist cities of the island: fortunately, there are still a few rooms that bring the baroque style in the banner, to attract customers and patrons.