Noto lies in Southwest Sicily, and is one of the island’s best examples of baroque city design. This is mainly due to the fact that the whole city fell apart in the late 17th Century because of an earthquake. Other towns in the region also underwent the same process. In fact, towns such as Ragusa, Modica and Scicli all feature similar architecture. That said, Noto is perhaps the town that best-preserves this element of its architectural history. You can easily visit Noto in one day, though an overnight stay will allow you to explore some noteworthy nearby attractions, too.
This baroque ‘garden of stone’ sits on a plateau that overlooks the Asinaro Valley. This is the land of citrus, almond, and olive trees, and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Noto welcomes its visitors with baroque churches and buildings, spread along the Via Nicolaci, Via Corso Vittorio Emanuele and its many piazzas. To name but a few, you can visit teh Piazza Immacolata, Piazza Municipio and Piazza XVI Maggio.
The beautiful Porta Reale marks the entrance to the Via Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Just to the one side of this you will moreover find some charming public gardens. In the vicinity you will also find Chiesa di San Francesco, Monastero del Santissimo Salvatore. In the Piazza Municipio you can furthermore find the city’s cathedral. These are all beautiful buildings of baroque exteriors and interiors. A particularly delightful church in Noto is the Chiesa di San Domenico on the Piazza XVI Maggio. The inside of this building is covered in stucco and marble altars, making for an incredible view.
If you happen to be in Noto on the third Sunday of May, you will become a spectator of the Inforiata di Noto. This annual flower festival sees the Via Nicolaci covered in a petal mosaic. This depicts different themes and scenes, which visitors can view from the narrow pavements on either side of the road. Along here you will also find the Palazzo Villadorata. On its exteriors you will find many interesting, protruding balconies. Inside you will moreover see some extremely well-preserved frescoes.
Noto also offers a beach, the Spiaggia Calamosche. This is just a 30 minute walk away from the town. Though it is not an equipped beach, it is very popular with the locals, who like to sunbathe and picnic on its shores.
To arrive in Noto, you can fly to Catania, from whose airport you can catch a bus, which will stop near the Porta Reale. Alternatively, from Catania itself, you can catch a train through to Noto.