Here we are in Val di Noto, situated in the eastern part of Sicily. It is so beautiful, thanks to its baroque cities, that it was included in the Unesco World Heritage List in 2002. Its cities, risen in the medieval age, were nearly destroyed because of an earthquake, which hit them in  1693. After this disaster, the cities were rebuilt in a late baroque style. Let’s closely see these wonderful cities.

CALTAGIRONE:

Caltagirone, also called the City of Ceramics, is a  baroque city and an important center for its tradition of the ceramic manufacturing. Sicilian people call it “Cattagiruni”and it’s a wonderful city to walk around.

  •  Scala di Santa Maria del Monte, with its 142 molten steps decorated with majolica tiles with floral, animal and geometric paints is the most beautiful thing to see. This scale represents a link between the old and the new city. It is the second most beautiful scale in Italy and the eight in Europe. When I was in Caltagirone, I arrived at the top and the view of the city is breathtaking.

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  • A stop you should also make is to see the wonderful ceramics, which make Caltagirone so famous. Their colors and their beauty are something will leave you without words.

MILITELLO IN VAL CATANIA:

A city full of churches and buildings, all built in a baroque style. It’s a gold mine for many art academics and it is a city plenty of traditions.

  • Oxen river: Among the beautiful things to see, this river is one of them. It is possible to see its vegetation and its still active waterfalls, which are a wonderful show above all in the hot seasons. Moreover, tourists can also go through a vegetable arcade to closely see the river. A wonderful view.
  • Santuario Santa Maria della Stella: Another unmissable stop is this church, built to replace the previous one, destroyed by the earthquake and dedicated to Madonna della Stella, main patron saint of the city. It is placed at the top of a beautiful staircase and you can find many masterpieces, such as the precious wood statue of the Madonna della Stella, an altarpiece representing the Nativity of Maria or the altarpiece representing the Nativity of Jesus. The festival for the patron saint starts on 29th of August with a sung procession around the city. Then, there are nine days of preparation and on 7th of September the doors of the chapel are open and the simulacrum of the patron is placed in the paris to be venerated. On the 8th of September, there is the procession with the statue around the city.

MODICA: 

Modica, the city of the chocolate, is told to have been found by Hercules, who founded three cities, calling them Motia, honoring the beautiful woman who helped him to get his oxen back. It is divided in low and high city and here there are some of the places you should absolutely see:

  • The Church of San Giorgio: which is situated in a middle point between the two parts of the city, among staircases and hills. Inside the church, there are old precious paintings, a wonderful polyptych and a pipe organ.
  • Convento dei Mercenari e Museo civico: this is an elegant nineteenth-century museum, which hold beautiful paintings, some remainders from Paleolithic and the popular inheritance of the city.
  • One of the stop should be a shop where you can taste the typical chocolate made here, which is one of the best you can ever eat, also visiting the museum dedicated to it. Modica is the only place in which the chocolate is cold prepared and the chocolate seeds are ground. The add of lemon or orange makes this chocolate so particular.

CATANIA: 

Catania is the commercial and industrial city of the eastern Sicily, which became a baroque city after the earthquake and thanks to Vaccarini’s work.

  • Its symbol is La Fontana dell’Elefante which is situated in the middle of the main square. Its obelisk is all covered by Egyptian hieroglyphics and the elephant is all made by molten.
  • The Duomo‘s facade dominates in the square and it is Vaccarini’s masterpiece, who dedicated it to the patron saint of the city, Saint Agata. It’s front door is very particular because little angels are on the top of it. Moreover, inside the Duomo Costanza d’Aragona and Bellini are buried.

NOTO: 

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A jewel all surrounded by majestic buildings, which make the three main streets of the city very elegant.

  • Cathedral: It is situated in Piazza Municipio and a staircase carries to the front door. Two campaniles are situated in the two sides of the cathedral, making it majestic.
  • Palazzi del corso: Walking around the streets which carry you in the main one, it is possible to see the refined buildings, whose railings decorated with little angels, horses, mermaids, lions and grotesque figures, which are typical of the baroque period.
  • Infiorata di Noto: In spring, the “Infiorata” is an event you shouldn’t loose. All the streets are covered with colorful flowers, which shape wonderful figures.

RAGUSA IBLA: 

It is one of the most charming city of Val di Noto, where the tv series “Montalbano”, inspired by the books written by Andrea Camilleri, is recorded.

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  • The first thing to see is the Basilica of San Giorgio. Rosario Gagliardi was in charge for the project and he decided to make the church built at the top of a staircase, in a oblique way to underline the majesty of the church. Saint Giorgio and Saint Giacomo’s statues are inside the church with some beautiful paintings and simulacra used during the procession for Saint George festivity.
  • Ibla’s scales: One of the most charming path is the one to reach the baroque area of Ibla, which starts from the church Santa Maria delle Scale. One of the best moment is absolutely the setting.

PALAZZOLO ACREIDE:

The old city has very old origins (664 a.C) and its name was Akrai. The new city, instead, was built in ‘700. The two most beautiful things to see are:

  • The Greek Theater: it was built in II century a.C, upon a natural slope and even it is small, probably because it was built in a small urban area, the view from here is very beautiful.
  • Palazzolo Acreide is also plenty of beautiful churches, such as Church of Saint Sebastiano and Chiesa dell’Immacolata. 

Scicli:

Scicli is the core of the Sicilian baroque. Here you can see the Church of Saint Bartolomeo, built in the XV century, with a baroque facade and dark rocks in the sides of the church. Inside it, there is a wood nativity scene which is dated back to 1573. Moreover, you can see Palazzo Beneventano, characterized by the grotesque masks and by the emblem decorated by two Maures, today one of the symbol of the city.

I know this is a very long post, but I think this heritage site is really unique because it mixes nature, tradition, religion, culture, art and food.