Noto, the Sicilian Baroque
This small town in the south-east was founded again in the 1700’s. It is the heart and the starting point for a visit to the valley of the Sicilian Baroque. Its cathedral, perfectly raised and rebuilt again after 10 years of difficult work, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Let’s do things right: enter the city from the east, passing under the Arco di Trionfo which will lead you to the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the heart of Noto. Ferdinand de Bourbon in 1838 did the same thing, inaugurating the monument. Look up: three symbolic sculptures on the top stand out: a crenellated tower – power, a dog – the loyalty and at the centre a pelican – the sacrifice.
Also this royal gate was built with the characteristic golden yellow limestone used to build the churches and palaces of the city. It is a very unique limestone due to its flexibility and that is why it has been chosen to enable the elaborate cutting of the monuments and also because it gives off a strong light. When the sun sets, you’ll find out that this warm colour mixes with the sunlight, creating an atmosphere that grabs your heart.
Enjoy the stroll, it’s nice to walk up and down this street. On the right above the piazza Immacolata, you will come across the Church of Saint Francis Immaculate which stands on top of an impressive staircase. Inside the church of the 1700’s, there is a single nave, in accordance with Franciscan use and white walls decorated with rococo style stuccoes. Attached to the church there is a Franciscan monastery.
This is only one of many churches that you will come across along the way. As you know Noto was built after a powerful earthquake. This has given architects the freedom to design and create a most spectacular urban settlement. The three main roads are all oriented from the east to the west in order to be always illuminated by the sun. The urban design had also conceived them to be addressed to the three main social classes: the Corso was for the clergy, the upper part was for the nobility and the lower one was for the people. That’s why you will come across many churches along your way to the corso Vittorio Emanuele.
The Church of Santa Chiara, on the left side of the corso, conveys a very delicate baroque style. The interior is small and oval, adorned with stuccoes and cherubs. It is well balanced by the twelve columns. Continue onto the adjoining cloistered convent, it is an interesting world to discover and from the terrace there is a beautiful view.