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Noto, Sicily (WHS #160 part 1)

In the south-eastern part of Sicily, eight towns comprise the World Heritage serial site of Val di Noto, recognized as a great rebuilding achievement in the decades following the devastating earthquake of 1693, which resulted in surpassing examples of Baroque town planning and architecture. It is a varied collection, ranging from entire historic centers in some of the towns to just a couple of named churches in others.

Our itinerary allowed us to spend time in five of the eight inscribed towns, and I intend to have a separate blog installment for each. Starting with Noto, which was our base for this leg of the trip and therefore ended up as the best-explored of the bunch.

The historic core of Noto is centered on the Cathedral, a prime example of the 18th-century Sicilian Baroque.
Noto Cathedral, Sicily, Italy
If you read my previous Sicilian notes (here or here), you may find the statuary on the cathedral steps familiar.
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Yes, same sculptor, Igor Mitoraj. I did not bother to research why his works were so prominently exhibited at several of our itinerary stops (and never showed up again beyond Noto).
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Perspectives of the cathedral façade and neoclassical dome.
Noto Cathedral, Sicily, Italy
Noto Cathedral, Sicily, Italy
Noto Cathedral, Sicily, Italy
Opposite the cathedral stands Palazzo Ducezio, the town hall, which also dates from the post-earthquake period but was only fully completed nearly 200 years later in the first half of the 20th century.
Palazzo Ducezio, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Ensemble of the church of San Francesco d’Assisi and the monastery of San Salvatore to its left.
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
A 19th-century gate to the city, Porta Reale o Ferdinandea, built by the local marquis on an occasion of the town visit by the King of Sicily.
Porta Reale o Ferdinandea, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Opposite views, down Corso Vittorio Emmanuele towards the gate, taken at different times of day.
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
The plan of the city core is surprisingly grid-like. The main east-west arteries run along the hillside. The cross streets run down the hill at a noticeable angle, as seen in these shots.
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
The last two shots above are the opposite views towards the church of Montevergine and away from it. On the right-hand side of the last picture is Palazzo Nicolaci. Its exquisite balcony support beams are a prime example of the delightful Baroque feature found throughout the region. Well worth multiple close-ups.
Palazzo Nicolaci, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Nicolaci, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Nicolaci, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Nicolaci, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Nicolaci, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Nicolaci, Noto, Sicily, Italy
The interior of Palazzo Nicolaci, principally finished in 1765 and representing key features of the Sicilian Baroque for which Noto and the other towns in the area are inscribed on the WH list, is of limited interest. Nonetheless, the low ticket price makes it reasonably worthwhile to devote 20-30 minutes to a visit. Here are a couple of the most impressive spaces.
Palazzo Nicolaci, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Nicolaci, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Another palace in the town core, Palazzo Castelluccio, built in 1782, is slightly more expensive to enter and offers a bit more variety of decoration and eye-catching interiors…
Palazzo Castelluccio, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Castelluccio, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Castelluccio, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Castelluccio, Noto, Sicily, Italy
… plus a courtyard.
Palazzo Castelluccio, Noto, Sicily, Italy
Palazzo Castelluccio, Noto, Sicily, Italy
At churches, behind the impressive Baroque façades, there are usually comparatively understated interiors, not at all like the ones we have seen in Palermo. Here are the nave perspectives of Chiesa di Montevergine…
Chiesa di Montevergine, Noto, Sicily, Italy
… the Duomo …
Noto Cathedral, Sicily, Italy
… and Chiesa di San Carlo.
Chiesa di San Carlo, Noto, Sicily, Italy
The roof terraces of San Carlo are the can’t-miss highlight of Noto.
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Above are primarily north and northeast views. To the south and southwest from here, the town continues to descend down the hill, so the perspectives open up to the surrounding countryside, in this case fronted by the upper façade of the Church of Our Lady of the Carmel.
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Several staircases connect the area around the cathedral with even higher parts of the town core. They are decorated and colloquially called “painted” staircases, but in fact, the paint is not directly on the steps but rather on attached strips of canvas. I wasn’t overly impressed, but an example is worth of inclusion here.
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Finally, a couple of the previously seen perspectives taken in the late evening.
Noto Cathedral, Sicily, Italy
Noto, Sicily, Italy
Noto is a very beautiful town! It can really be explored in the course of an intraday visit, but our decision to make it the base for the stay in the area afforded us a better chance to fall in love with it. Which we did!

Posted in Travel Pictures, World Heritage