The storybook scenery of Noto, one of the eight famous Baroque towns nestled in the picturesque south-east of Sicily, is nothing short of idyllic. The juxtaposition of stone buildings, coloured in a soft, honey hue, against a vibrant, dramatic backdrop supplied by the rugged Iblean Mountains, provides a feast for the eyes you'll not soon forget.
Constructed on the ruins of the old city by the Duke of Camastra, in the wake of the devastating earthquake of 1693, Noto showcases the very best of the Baroque period with an exquisitely beautiful landscape of whimsical spires, ornate facades and balconies carved with intricate designs. Noto is a history and culture buff's paradise with more resplendent churches, monasteries and palaces than befits a town with a population of roughly 20,000. It is not hard to see why Noto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting countless visitors every year to wander its streets and admire its splendour.
The main attraction of Noto is the marvellous architecture of the city and the historical legacy that infuses these gently crumbling streets. The sweeping flights of steps and faded glamour that unfurls before you adds an ethereal beauty to Noto, reminiscent of days long past.
Many of the architectural highlights of this unique town are easy to find, located as they are, on or around the elegant main street, the Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle. Just be sure to plan plenty of time to wander as the mood takes you – there are many side streets, intriguing facades and spectacular interiors to distract you en route.
The Corso Vittorio Emmaneulle
Start your journey from any point along this impressive street. The Porta Reale marks one end of this thoroughfare that extends through the city via the lovely, shady public gardens, a succession of picturesque piazzas, and several inviting churches. Each building boasts its own unique designs with mischievous cherubs, gargoyles and elegant, wrought-iron balconies to admire as you stroll down the street. Don't miss the Chiesa di San Carlo al Corso – climb the bell tower for breath-taking views out over the city.
In typical Sicilian style, Noto's cathedral takes pride of place amongst the sights this beautiful town has to offer. The Cattedrale di San Nicolo's restoration, after a collapse in 1996, has returned it to almost Disney fairytale perfection. The pale yellow limestone exterior glows in the afternoon sun while the interior is simply painted in white.
Villa Romana del Tellaro
Situated south of Noto by the River Tellaro, this example of a wealthy, Roman home is a popular tourist attraction due to the intricate mosaics that decorate the floors. The scenes depict hunters, wild African animals and carpets of geometric designs and make the ideal cultural attraction for those wishing to avoid the crowds at the larger Villa Romana del Casale, one of Sicily's more famous sights.
Lido di Noto
After soaking up the delights of the city, visitors may want to escape to the coast and discover the beautiful shorelines that Sicily is famous for. Located a 10-15 minute drive away from the town lies Lido di Noto, perched on the coast. A breezy little seaside resort that is popular with local holiday-makers, the beach is sandy, the sea is crystal clear and there are plenty of bars, shops and places to eat during the summer months.
Take a trip to nearby Ragusa
If the baroque beauty of Noto has merely served to whet your appetite for more of the same, the equally idyllic town of Ragusa is an hour's drive to the west. Ragusa is split into two separate towns - one that was rebuilt after the destructive earthquake of 1693 to play host to the flamboyant palazzis of the noble classes, and the other houses the old town, a fairytale maze of labyrinthine streets begging to be explored.
Wining and dining is one of the chief pleasures of Noto. As well as traditional Sicilian fare such as rustic platters laden with antipasti, creamy cheeses and delectable variations on pizza and pasta dishes, you will encounter restaurants that provide fusion dishes guaranteed to keep the more adventurous foodies happy. Famous for its cafe culture and delicious gelati and pastries, it is quite easy to spend leisurely afternoons eating and drinking in one of Noto's sunny piazzas.
Manna is a popular eatery, with three artistically decorated dining rooms providing an atmospheric setting to accompany your meal. Tuck into mains such as parmesan risotto and seafood linguine, but be sure to leave room for one of the mouth-watering desserts - the orange cake and lemon sorbet are highly recommended. Another Noto favourite is the Pizzeria Casa Matta, just the place to indulge in a varied selection of pizzas, topped with an assortment of rustic, Sicilian delights.
Copyright of Manna
Choosing Noto as a base for your holiday in Sicily offers an experience of unparalleled baroque beauty, an escape from the outside world into a picturesque landscape, steeped in history and culture.
A self-catered holiday provides more freedom, space and privacy than is possible at a hotel, and our selection of Noto villas and apartments boast a range of individual features and facilities to enable you to create that home-away-from-home feeling. From private pools and spacious Mediterranean gardens, to breath-taking views and city centre living, browse our location guide to see individual properties or explore our collections if you know what type of holiday you are looking for.
Alternatively, contact us for assistance in booking your ideal holiday home.
Noto is located in the south-east of Sicily, around 35 minutes’ drive from Syracuse. It is possible to reach the city by bus – AST and Interbus both run to Noto from Syracuse, Catania and Gela. Noto also has a railway station and can be reached by train, but the drop-off point for the bus is more conveniently located, in the town centre.