Noto sights

A baroque stroll through Noto

Most visitors enter town from the Giardino Pubblico gardens through the eastern gate, the 19th century Porta Reale, which begins Noto's most stunning street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

This main pedestrian thoroughfare is punctuated by three piazze, the first of which is Piazza Immacolata, where a long flight of steps leads up to San Francesco all'Immacolata church, bearing the most subdued of all the baroque facades in town.

Across Via Zanardelli from the church is the back side of SS. Salvatore monastery, whose flank runs from here—passing S. Chiara church with a Gagini-carved Madonna and Child inside—all the way to Noto's central piazza.

Piazza Municipio

Piazza Municipio is Noto's grandest plaza, and walking into it is like entering a theater where all the players are fantasies of baroque architecture. In the center on the right is the Cattedrale (the roof may be gone, but the facade remains intact, if often swathed in scaffolding) flanked by the Bishop's Palazzo Vescovile (right) and the Palazzo Landolina (left).

Across from the Duomo's sweep of stairs is the low curving facade of the Palazzo Ducezio or Municipio (town hall) on Piazza Trigona. Pop inside to see the amazing painted ceilings of the interiors, and especially the octagonal Louis XV–style room called the Sala degli Specchi (Room of Mirrors), which was redone in the 1930s for the occasion of a visit by King Umberto I. The Palazzo Duecezio is open daily 9:30am–1:30pm and 3–7pm (last entry: 6pm). (Adm)

The cathedral's steps are flanked by little U-shaped gardens, and above the right one is the facade of Basilica SS. Salvatore (attached to the convent).

Via Nicolaci

Diverge right off the Corso now for a steep block up Via C. Nicolaci, whose sharp slope, lines of balconies, and the concave facade of Montevergini church at the top end give the street a weird vanishing-point perspective effect.

The palace filling the street's left side is the Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata, (tel. +39-320-556-8038 or +39-338-742-7022 or +39-329-252-7585). Its balconies (freshly cleaned) are supported by struts carved with a peanut's gallery of men, horses, women, lions, mythical creatures, and cherubs.

The palazzo's interiors are wonderfully eerie: empty and dim and gently decaying, richly painted but sadly faded wallpaper peeling, plastered decorations flaking away. It is open daily 10am–12:30pm and 3:30–5:30pm. (Adm)

Corso V. Emanuele

Return to Piazza Municipio to turn right and continue along Corso V. Emanuele. As you exit the piazza, on your left is the restored facade of San Carlo del Collegio).

A bit farther up you come to the third plaza, Piazza XVI Maggio, with a small garden in the center, the 19th-century Teatro Comunale theater set back on the left, and rising above the piazza on the north the mighty, convex, and well-proportioned facade of San Domenico.

Tips & links


Noto tourist office:
Piazzale XVI Maggio/Corso V. Emanuele
tel. +39-0931-896-654

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Noto is in the southeast corner of Sicily, 38km (24 miles) south of Siracusa and 50km (31 miles) east of Ragusa. The best way to get to Noto is by train. » more

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Noto tourist office:
Piazzale XVI Maggio/Corso V. Emanuele
tel. +39-0931-896-654

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