Noto has one of the most beautiful historic centers in Sicily and in recent years (perhaps also thanks to the marriage of the Ferragnez) it has become one of the most popular destinations on the island. Completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1693 (like most of the cities of Eastern Sicily), Noto was rebuilt in record time and the result is truly splendid! The greatest architects and designers of the golden age of Sicilian Baroque worked on its reconstruction (like Rosario Gagliardi for example, who also designed the beautiful churches of Modica and Ragusa) and its historic center has splendid palaces and incredible churches; the dominant color is honey yellow, typical of the stone quarried in this area. The historic center of Noto can be visited in a few hours, but you can use it as a base to visit the surroundings (Marzamemi and Villa del Tellaro for example) or living by the sea on the beautiful beaches ofOasis of Vendicari or Portopalo di Capo Passero.
What to see in Noto
Cathedral of San Nicolò
The imposing Cathedral of San Nicolò represents the fulcrum of Noto. It opens onto Piazza Municipio and to enter you have to climb a large staircase. The church was particularly damaged by the 1990 earthquake, was closed for several years for reconstruction, and today is more beautiful than ever. The interior has been remodeled several times and the commission was given to contemporary artists of national and international fame to perform the new frescoes on the dome, the oil paintings for the altars of the transept and the sculptures for the niches of the side aisles.
Among the things for which Noto is famous there is also the infiorata, which takes place every year on the 3rd weekend of May. For this event, all of it Via Nicolaci it is covered with colored flower petals to form drawings and figures on a specific theme (which changes every year). This uphill street is one of the most elegant in Noto and it is here that it faces Nicolaci Palace of Villadorata. The baroque palace can also be visited inside and still retains the original furnishings.
Dome of San Carlo al Corso
On the corner between Via Nicolaci and Corso Vittorio Emanuele is the small one church of San Carlo al Corso, a church with a very beautiful concave facade. If you want to have one super view on Noto go up to the top of the bell tower (paying a ticket of 2 or 3 euros, I don't remember). At the end of the spiral staircase you will find a first terrace (from here the view is already beautiful) and from there the staircase continues until you reach the bell tower.
In the middle of Corso Vittorio, on the same square as the Cathedral (Piazza Municipio), there is another of the most beautiful and important buildings in the city, namely Palace Ducetius. This large palace was designed by Vincenzo Sinatra in 1746, inspired by some French palaces of the seventeenth century, has a beautiful facade made of stone columns and balconies and it houses the Town Hall of Noto. Like Palazzo Nicolaci, this can also be visited inside to see, above all, the Hall of Mirrors with the trompe l'oeil ceiling.
At the end of Corso Vittorio, on Piazza XXIV Maggio, there is the Municipal Theatre, defined by some as the “Scala di Milano in miniature”. This small opera house was built in the second half of the XNUMXth century in neoclassical style, with bas-reliefs with musical motifs and theatrical masks. It has a capacity of 320 seats which includes three rows of boxes and a gallery with 80 chairs.
What to see around Noto
Villa del Tellaro
Less than 10 km from Noto, this rich country residence of the late Roman imperial age was found about 50 years ago. There Tellaro village, so called because it was found near the river of the same name, dates back to the XNUMXth century AD and has gods amazing mosaics which compete, on a small scale, with those of the famous Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina. The mosaics represent episodes of the Iliad and a hunting scene with wild animals complete with a tiger (which suggest that the mosaic is the work of artists from North Africa).
Oasis of Vendicari
If you are interested in nature and maybe you want to do some sea I suggest you go about 10 km south of Noto, where there is theOasis of Vendicari. This nature reserve is made up of swamps, lagoons, dunes and salt flats and inside it also includes several beaches (not equipped, you have to bring everything!) Such as the Calamosche beach, the one of San Lorenzo or that of vendicari (located next to the old trap.. without roof but very impressive!). Inside the Reserve there are also several observation huts from which you can observe cranes, storks and other birds that populate the lagoon.
Marzamemi it is undoubtedly one of the most photographed places in the area, especially its square square. We are talking about a small village with an old tonnara renowned, still today, for tuna-based dishes (you can buy it from Campisi, the most famous producer in Sicily). The square of the tonnara it has been renovated and is full of bars and restaurants, some of which also overlook the sea (such as “La Cialoma” for example). Come for lunch or at sunset for an aperitif by the sea (in 1h you will have seen everything anyway!).
I close this review on the things to see around Noto with a Sicilian winery that I love very much, the Planet Canteen, which has several vines in the hinterland of Noto, in the Buonivini area. Here you can visit the cellar and taste their wines. If you want you can also sleep in the ancient palmereto in the center of the vineyard which has been expertly restored. Find all the info at this link.
Where to sleep in Noto
- A Calata B&B: very nice structure with rooms with or without balcony right in the center of Noto, a few steps from the Cathedral. Excellent breakfast with all homemade products. See prices and availability.
- Welcome Garden: this structure is more comparable to a Boutique Hotel than to a B&B. Design rooms with very nice furnishings, excellent location in the center of Noto and great attention to the customer. See prices and availability.
If you prefer to be in the midst of nature, perhaps in a structure with a swimming pool, you will find different solutions around Noto in the article 10 beautiful farmhouses with swimming pool in Sicily.
Where to eat in Noto and surroundings
- Rotisserie "Da Piero" (Noto): excellent rotisserie / pastry shop in the center of Noto, perfect for a quick lunch based on arancini and cannoli.
- Sicily coffee (Noto): the best coffee in Noto for ice cream (but not only!). It did not reopen after the March 2020 lock-down, but hopefully it will reopen soon because it is truly a city institution.
- Crucifix Restaurant (Noto): high-level restaurant in Noto, elegant and modern, offers gourmet cuisine with local ingredients.
- The Cialoma (Marzamemi): the place to be in Marzamemi! La Cialoma has a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea. His fish cuisine is excellent! Book before you go.
You might also be interested in these other articles I wrote about Sicily:
- What to see in Agrigento and surroundings
- What to see in Catania and surroundings
- What to see in Modica and surroundings
- Western Sicily: 3 days between Marsala, Mazara, Selinunte, Segesta and Gibellina
- What to see in Palermo in 3 days
- What to see around Palermo
- Where to eat in Palermo
- Favignana: the beaches, where to sleep and where to eat
- Marettimo: how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep
- Levanzo: how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep
- 10 beautiful farmhouses with swimming pool in Sicily