According to legend, Daedalus stayed in the city after his flight over the Ionian Sea, as did Hercules after his seventh task – Capture the Cretan Bull. 🙂

In 9th century it was conquered by the Muslims, who elevated the city to become a capital of one of the three districts of the island (the Val di Noto). In 11th century, it became the last Islamic stronghold in Sicily to fall to the Christians. Later it became a rich Norman city. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the city was home to several notable intellectual figures. In 16th century king Ferdinand III granted it the title of civitas ingeniosa (“Ingenious City”). In the following centuries, the city expanded, growing beyond its medieval limits, and new buildings, churches and convents were built.

Notably, it is the finest example of the Sicilian baroque. Why is so? The medieval town of Noto was virtually razed by the 1693 Sicilian earthquake. Over half the population is said to have died from the earthquake. It was decided to rebuild the town at the present site, on the left bank of the River Asinaro, closer to the Ionian shore. These circumstances have led this town to have a unique architectural homogeneity since the core of the town was all built over the next decades after the calamity in what is a typical and highly preserved example of Sicilian baroque.

I parked, took a walk through Corso Vittorio Emmanuele and immediately noticed – the city is so much different that the rest of the places I visited so far.

It was a hot summer day and along the corso there were many people strolling up and down, passing nearby local shops and bars. It was a pleasant welcome,

I decided to sit and have my macchiato. Nearby local decided to spread his southern temperament. He started to sell me usual talks: how Sicily is the most beautiful place in the world (it is not), the most incredible island (it is not) and how Noto is the second most beautiful city in the world, first one is Paris (yeah, right). If you’d ask him how many times he visited any other place than Sicily, most probably he will tell you he hasn’t been anywhere, what for, he has everything here. Yeah right.

Noto is famous for its buildings from the early 18th century, many of which are considered to be among the finest examples of Sicilian baroque style. It is a place of many religious buildings and several palaces. But for one only, people come to visit the Cathedral of St Nicholas. The 18th century Cathedral

Just opposite is the 18th century building Palazzo Ducezio. Remarkable and famous for its ball rooms. It brings the imagination to the times of romanticism and long rich gowns.

A pure gem of Baroque art, Noto is really worth visiting now, before it gets too popular. The creator of many of the finest buildings was the Baroque starchitect Rosario Gagliardi, whose extroverted style also graces churches and monuments in Ragusa and Modica.

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