8 City Baroque of the Val di Noto

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Sicily is a land to be discovered, rich in history, culture, traditions, a land of a thousand colors kissed by the sun, full of wonderful landscapes that rise up to the high slopes of Etna and descend to the waters of the Mediterranean Sea!
In this enchanted land the Val di Noto, located in the eastern part of the island, which in 2002 entered the "World Heritage List" of Unesco, considered World Heritage Site for its baroque cities.

These, which arose in medieval times, suffered very serious damage following the disastrous earthquake of 1693, which almost completely destroyed them. Following this disaster the cities were rebuilt simultaneously in style late baroque, giving the Vallo a wonderful homogeneity of style.
Here 8 baroque towns in the Val di Noto a must see!


  1. Caltagirone
  2. Militello of Val di Catania
  3. Modica
  4. Catania
  5. Noto
  6. Ragusa Ibla
  7. Palazzolo Acreide
  8. What to See
  9. scicli
  10. User questions and comments


We begin our journey from a city renowned not only for its Baroque architectural style but also for its own pottery.
The prestige of the city and its soul are in fact in this ancient art, which sees the creation of beautiful and colorful artifacts (the most famous of which represent demonic faces), unique in their kind.

What to See

  1. Villa Comunale: along the Via Roma that cuts the town in half, you will find immediately on the left, a wonderful English-style garden decorated with ceramic vases with disturbing faces "frenzied";
  2. Teatrino and Museum of Ceramics: particular construction of the '700 decorated with majolica which houses the Museum of Ceramics, where you can trace the history of ceramics, from prehistoric times to the present day;
  3. Historic center and stairway of S. Maria del Monte: starting from Piazza Umberto I you can admire the Cathedral of San Giuliano, a baroque building whose facade was replaced in the early 900s; you then reach the famous Staircase of S. Maria del Monte, decorated along its 142 steps with polychrome majolica narrating the historical path of the ceramics of Caltagirone.
    At the foot of the staircase on the left you will find the Palazzo Senatorio and behind the Corte Capitaniale, the work of Gagini from 1601, one of the few to have survived the earthquake.
    Another important building is theElectrical Workshop, a structure of the early twentieth century whose facade is a work by Ernesto Basile.
    Also in the historic center of Caltagirone you will find the Bourbon prison, a work of the '700 created by Natale Bonajuto, which currently houses the civic Museum and Church of Jesus, with a magnificent façade, full of statues and sculptures, which inside shows all its Baroque magnificence.
  4. gazebo: no less important is the Tondo Vecchio, a building rich in decorations and stone frames unique in their kind, from which you can admire the breathtaking landscapes that this city offers.

Militello of Val di Catania

Another baroque city is the beautiful Militello di Val di Catania, which owes its fortune to the arrival of Giovanna d'Austria who made it her court and a center of culture and beauty. In fact, there are many churches rich in art treasures and monuments.

What to See

  1. Common: starting from the Town Hall square you can admire the imposing Benedictine monastery, today the seat of the municipality, with its façade in style militellian baroque;
  2. Mother Church and Crypts: other treasure is contained in crypts of the Mother Church, from the 700s, which houses the museum of S. Nicolò, with a collection of liturgical vestments, treasures from some churches, silver and ecclesiastical kits.
  3. Baroque churches: the baroque churches of S. Maria alla Catena, which inside houses the beautiful stuccoes of the '600 and that of Maria SS. Of the Star, which has a portal framed by twisted columns and inside a real treasure, a glazed terracotta altarpiece depicting the Nativity.


La city ​​of chocolate as well as the baroque, it is divided into Modica Alta and Bassa. Little remains of the medieval city, but on the other hand it is teeming with monuments and churches in the late Baroque style.

What to See

  1. Cathedral of St. George: imposing structure with 5 naves divided by 22 columns with Corinthian capitals. Inside there is a real treasure, the Santa Arca, a work covered in silver that contains the relics of the saint. Leaving the church, the impact with the majestic staircase could make you dizzy! Made up of 250 steps, it was built in 1818 and, forgive the note, it has nothing to envy to Piazza di Spagna!
  2. Pomara Palace: to the left of the Duomo, another marvelous structure in late Baroque style that dominates the city, also introduced by an elegant staircase.
  3. Church of St. Peter: Worthy of note, it is located in Modica Bassa, and can be reached by walking along a flight of steps surrounded by beautiful statues depicting the twelve apostles.
  4. Convent of the Mercenaries and Civic Museum: elegant nineteenth-century monument which now houses the civic museum. It contains treasures and testimonies dating back to the Paleolithic, important paintings and also the popular heritage of the city.
  5. Modica chocolate: at the end of the baroque tour you can enjoy a piece of Modica chocolate, whose peculiarity is its friability and sweetness.


Commercial and industrial center of Eastern Sicily, Catania is another city that owes its baroque flowering to the earthquake and to the works of Vaccarini who from 1730 gave a more daring and pro-Roman style, characterized by more flowery, curvilinear accents and more movements.

What to See

  1. Elephant Fountain: in the center of the main square, symbol of Catania, with an obelisk reminiscent of that of Rome covered with Egyptian hieroglyphs and the elephant made of lava stone.
  2. Fontana dell'Amenano and Palazzo dei Chierici e Pardo: both the fountain, called "Acqua a lenzuolo" due to the way in which the water of the river of the same name descends, and the palace, overlook the square with a slightly more Sicilian style of the th century.
  3. Duomo: dominates the piazza la Baroque facade of the Duomo, a masterpiece by Vaccarini, dedicated to the patron saint of the city, S. Agata. This splendid church is characterized by Norman apses in lava and the north door of the '500 is surmounted by putti. Inside lie between the magnificent works of art Costanza d'Aragona and Bellini.


The devastation of the earthquake gave birth to a jewel like few others: the city of Noto. It is made up of three large main streets that go from east to west to always be radiated by the sun, where the noble class settled in the highest, the clergy in the central and the people in the last. It is in these streets that majestic palaces rise, made of local limestone, which give them an elegant and refined appearance, with their golden and rosy colors that explode with beauty at sunset.
The main street is Corso Vittorio Emanuele
See also
: Noto: what to see, where to eat and what to do in the evening

What to See

  1. Church of S. Francesco all'Immacolata: it is located in the first square, where the simple baroque facade of the church dominates; to reach it you have to go up aimposing staircase which makes it majestic.
  2. Cathedral: overlooks Piazza Municipio, also preceded by a staircase. The church has two bell towers on both sides that give the late Baroque façade a regal and imposing appearance.
  3. Palace Ducetius: looking from the top of the steps towards the opposite side, the Palazzo Ducezio overlooks, characterized by a classical style portico.
  4. Church of S. Domenico: the last, Piazza XVI Maggio, is dominated by the convex façade of the church of S. Domenico, with superimposed columns that give a vigorous aspect to the façade. The interior is even more interesting as it is decorated with stuccoes with a polychrome marble altar.
  5. Palaces of the course: noteworthy are also the noble palaces that rise along the streets that overlook the Corso. They are characterized by balconies with rounded railings and shelves with imaginative themes rich in cherubs, horses, mermaids, lions but above all grotesque figures, typical of the late Baroque.
  6. Infiorata of Noto: if you go in spring, do not miss "the Infiorata", an event during which the streets of the city become a carpet of flowers colorful with wonderful figures ... to take your breath away!

Ragusa Ibla

Baroque jewel, one of the most fascinating tourist destinations of the Baroque Val di Noto.

What to See

  1. Basilica of S. Giorgio: the first stop is definitely there Basilica of S. Giorgio, which has an elaborate facade divided into three parts by bundles of columns and decorative motifs typical of the Sicilian Baroque style. Inside, in the central nave, we find 13 stained glass windows representing the martyrs of St. George.
  2. Villa Comunale and churches: in the Villa Comunale there are three churches: that of the Capuchins with the convent, that of San Giacomo and that of San Domenico.
  3. Church of Santa Maria dell'Itria: sumptuous interior, with sumptuous decorations on the altars, different from each other. To the left of the church stands a bell tower that surrounds a small dome, the base of which is covered with polychrome tiles from Caltagirone, decorated with vases and flowers.
  4. Palace Cosentini: with elegant balconies, supported by ornate almost fairytale corbels with a series of characters and a repertoire of animals, monsters, beasts, horrible and fantastic faces, characterizing the Baroque style.
  5. St. John's Cathedral: built between 1706 and 1760, which has a richly decorated facade with a majestic portal and a spire bell tower. Inside you can admire the precious stucco decorations of the 800th century. On the back of the church stands Casa Canonica, a beautiful baroque building with wonderful balconies.

Palazzolo Acreide

The old city has very ancient origins (664 BC) and took the name of Akrai, the new one was built in 700 '. The many baroque buildings are located in the main streets: Corso Vittorio Emanuele and via Carlo Alberto, which flow into Piazza del Popolo.

What to See

  1. Church of S. Sebastiano and Church of the Immaculate Conception: the facade of the first is majestic, the second houses the Madonna and Child by Francesco Laurana.
  2. Cathedral of San Paolo: in the nearby Piazza Umberto I stands in all its magnificence the Cathedral of San Paolo, whose facade is attributed to Francesco Sinatra, has three orders marked by round arches and columns with Corinthian capitals. The last level rises in a bell tower.


We conclude our journey in cradle of Sicilian Baroque with Scicli.

What to See

  1. Mother Church of the Madonna delle Milizie: the visit begins with Piazza Italia where the Church stands, rich in stuccos and frescoes.
  2. Church of St. Bartholomew: from the th century, it is very suggestive given the contrast between the elegant Baroque facade and the dark rocks that dominate it on the sides; inside there is a real jewel, a wooden crib of 1573.
  3. Palace Benevento: in pure Baroque style, defined by A. Blunt as "perhaps the only one in Sicily for fantastic decoration", il Palace Benevento it is characterized by the "irreverent" masks that adorn the two monumental elevations linked by a remarkable cantonal. On top of this stands the crowned coat of arms of the Benevento family decorated with two Moorish heads, now one of the symbols of the city.

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