The first name of Noto was Neas and it was founded by Sican populations at the time of the fall of Troy. When it passed into the hands of the Syracusan conquerors, Neas assimilated Hellenic customs and traditions and even becoming a Gymnasium. Under Roman rule Neas was a federated city and was elected Municipium, which guaranteed various privileges, including that of being able to govern itself with its own laws. When it was the time of the Arabs, they made it a stronghold and gave it the name Noto, deciding that it would become the capital of one of the three valleys into which they had divided Sicily, the Val di Noto. After two centuries of Muslim rule, in 1090, Noto went under the rule of Ruggero I.
The Sicilian Baroque
This amazing city was refounded in the 1700s after the terrible earthquake of 1693 and represents the real beating heart of Sicilian Baroque. Its cathedral was rebuilt over 10 long years (it was finished in 1770), but this did not deny it, in the end, from being included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When you still enter Noto today, you pass under the Arch of Triumph in yellow limestone, the same one under which Ferdinand of Bourbon passed in 1838 to inaugurate it. On the top there are: a dog (symbol of fidelity), a crenellated tower (symbol of power) and a pelican (representing the sacrifice).
After the monument you start Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
Immediately on the right, at the end of a gigantic staircase, stands the famous church of San Francesco dell’Immacolata. With a single nave, the interior walls decorated with Rococo stuccoes (evolution of the late Baroque).
However, this is not the only church on the Corso and the motivation is truly particular.
The urban layout had provided for three main streets, all always well lit by the sun, which were to be destined for the three social classes.
The clergy would have resided on the Corso, the bourgeoisie in the upper part, the people in the lower part.
This is precisely why so many churches are on the same road.
Opposite the cathedral is the Palazzo Ducezio, seat of the Town Hall designed by the architect Sinatra.
The building was built between 1746 and 1830 on a single elevation and only in the 1950s was a second floor superimposed on it to modify its original neoclassical line.
The interior consists of a reception room that represents an explosion of magnificence rich in gold and stucco.
A little further on, on the right is Via Nicolaci, the street famous for the Infiorata (which takes place in May), which ends with the beautiful facade between two bell towers of the Church of Montevergine.
On the left there are still the pot-bellied balconies of Palazzo Nicolaci – Villadorata (1731) which still have the shelves that support them perfectly decorated with animal shapes. Inside, in the 90 rooms, resided the princes of Villadorata.
Continuing the walk, on the left there is the Church of San Carlo and the Jesuit College, famous for the portal with four columns dominated by monstrous masks.
At the end, the tour of the churches ends with the one dedicated to San Domenico and with the Villa of Hercules.