Noto is defined as the Capital of Baroque and it too is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The original site of Noto Antica rises 8km away from the current city and there can be found the first settlements that date back to the Bronze Age. During the Roman period Noto, known at the time as Neaton, became an ally city of the Romans, so much so that the citizens were even given their own Senate.
During the Byzantine domination the city was enriched with monuments such as the Basilica of Eloro and the Trigona di Cittadella dei Maccari, the Oratory of the Falconara, the Crypt of Saint Laurence the Elder, the Monastery of Saint Mark and the Village of the quarter of Arco.
The city took on its current name of Noto during the Arab domination. Subsequently, first under Norman domination and then under the Aragonese, Noto became a city rich with monuments of historical-religious interest. The Castello Reale (Royal Castle) and the Cistercian Monastery of Saint Maria dell’Arco go back to this period.
In 1963 the city was destroyed in the terrible earthquake that struck the South-East of Sicily and was then rebuilt on the characteristic baroque style of the Val di Noto.
The current city is therefore the result of the work of a number of architects (Rosario Gagliardi, Paolo Labisi, Vincenzo Sinatra and Antonio Mazza), master builders and stonemasons who during the 18th century created an exceptional urban environment.
When roaming the streets of the city it is possible to see picturesque piazzas and imposing stairs that connect terraces and gradients. For the reconstruction a soft local stone was used with a colour that is between golden and rosé. Unlike what usually happened with baroque constructions in the provinces of the South of Sicily, the architects that worked at Noto did not focus on monumental motifs, but looked for a balance with the existing architecture. In fact, the baroque elements are tied to the various styles of the urban context in such a way that it has been defined as the “perfect baroque city”..