Have you ever been to the Val di Noto in Sicily? It is a sought-after destination in virtue of the peculiar identity of the towns that are part of it, and the baroque style which here has reached its climax.
If you’ve never been here now it’s the right time to explore the south-east area of Sicily and discover what UNESCO has established an exceptional example of late Baroque art and architecture.
Noto, the splendor of the Sicilian Baroque
Twelve years ago, the historical center of Noto, along with the Valley, has been included among the World Heritage Sites: everything originates from the terrible earthquake of 1693 which destroyed most of the urban centers in the area. It was then that the cities affected by the earthquake adopted original solutions in the reconstruction phase , so today the entire valley has a very homogeneous style under the architectural profile.
In addition, the landscape scenery and mild climate (from March until autumn days are often sunny ) are a perfect mixture for relaxing stays, because here culture, nature and authenticity are intertwined in surprising ways .
When you’ll arrive in Noto you’ll be struck by the large squares and the majestic terraces and stairways that connect different levels, from the color of the local stone (a shade between gold and pink) used to build palaces and churches, and by the amazing Cattedrale di San Nicolò.
Following the work of restoration due to a collapse in 1996, the church also has a new fresco by the Russian painter Oleg Supereko, a successful blend of the Sicilian Baroque style and contemporary art. Noto it is also rich in palaces and archaeological sites in the immediate vicinity as Eloro, near the source of the river Tellaro, an ancient Greek city where you can admire a theater and the remains of shrines and other ancient buildings.
Noto Flower Festival, a tribute to Russia
An unmissable event if you go in Sicily in May is the Flower Festival, which is held from 16th to 18th May across the city streets. The floral carpet at Via Corrado Nicolaci is the main stage of the event which will host as guests Russian artists who will make the flower arrangements be inspired by the extraordinary charm of Noto.
On 18th May, the event will conclude with a procession through the streets of the baroque city, we recommend to join the Infiorata to appreciate the triumph of colors in this slice of Heaven in Sicily.
Ragusa city of bridges
Ragusa is the main town of the area and is also known as the “city of bridges” because of 3 very unique buildings, the Old Bridge, built in 1843, that overlooks the valley S. Domenica, the New Bridge built in 1937 which connects the historic center with the southern part of the city, and the bridge Papa Giovanni XXIII dated back to 1964, built because of the intense development of Ragusa, became a strategic place not only for tourism but also for the socio-economic background, better than the rest of the island.
Ragusa is an art city, as shown by the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, whose facade is rich in carvings and sculptures, or the Cathedral of San Giorgio, considered one of the finest examples of Baroque, more similar to the churches of Northern Europe than the Italian ones.
It is possible to book guided tours not only in the historical center, but also thematic routes such as the location tour of Commissario Montalbano, a famous Italian Tv fiction inspired by the novels of Andrea Camilleri, settled just in the province of Ragusa.
Among these venues, don’t miss the Donnafugata Castle, a manor house of the XIX century that has often been used as a movie set, an example of elegance and splendor that characterize this part of Sicily.
The Val di Noto, therefore, is not just a summer destination but is the answer to the demands of travelers looking for a nice place with a style that is unmatched even in the rest of the island.