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Città di Noto
Noto Cathedral
Coat of arms of Noto
Location of Noto
Noto is located in Italy
Location of Noto in Italy
Noto is located in Sicily
Noto (Sicily)
Coordinates: 36°53′N 15°05′E / 36.883°N 15.083°E / 36.883; 15.083
ProvinceSiracusa (SR)
Frazionisee list
 • MayorCorrado Figura
 • Total550.86 km2 (212.69 sq mi)
152 m (499 ft)
 (31 December 2022)[2]
 • Total24,264
 • Density44/km2 (110/sq mi)
DemonymNotinesi or Netini
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code0931
Patron saintSan Corrado Confalonieri
Saint dayFebruary 19
Websitewww.comune.noto.sr.it Edit this at Wikidata
Part ofLate Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (South-Eastern Sicily)
CriteriaCultural: (i)(ii)(iv)(v)
Inscription2002 (26th Session)
Area21.38 ha (2,301,000 sq ft)
Buffer zone48.09 ha (5,176,000 sq ft)
The church of St. Charles Borromeo.
A balcony of the Villadorata palace.
The church of San Domenico.

Noto (Sicilian: Notu; Latin: Netum) is a city and comune in the Province of Syracuse, Sicily, Italy. It is 32 kilometres (20 mi) southwest of the city of Syracuse at the foot of the Iblean Mountains. It lends its name to the surrounding area[3] Val di Noto. In 2002 Noto and its church were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[4]


Noto is regarded as having a possible Ancient Greek etymology. Likely, the name is derived from "south" (Greek: Νότιο), as in Notion and Notio Aigaio.


The old town, Noto Antica, lies 8 kilometres (5 mi) directly north on Mount Alveria. A city of Sicel origin, it was known as Netum in ancient times. In 263 BCE the city was granted to Hiero II by the Romans. According to legend, Daedalus stayed in the city after his flight over the Ionian Sea, as did Hercules after his seventh task. During the Roman era, it opposed the magistrate Verres.

A view of Noto Town Hall.

In 866 it was conquered by the Muslims, who elevated the city to become a capital of one of the three districts of the island (the Val di Noto). In 1091, it became the last Islamic stronghold in Sicily to fall to the Christians.[5] Later it became a rich Norman city.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the city was home to several notable intellectual figures, including Giovanni Aurispa, jurists Andrea Barbazio and Antonio Corsetto, as well as architect Matteo Carnelivari and composer Mario Capuana. In 1503 King Ferdinand III granted it the title of civitas ingeniosa ("Ingenious City"). In the following centuries, the city expanded, growing beyond its medieval limits, and new buildings, churches and convents were built.

The medieval town of Noto was virtually razed by the 1693 Sicilian earthquake.[6] Over half the population is said to have died from the earthquake.[7] It was decided to rebuild the town at the present site, on the left bank of the River Asinaro, closer to the Ionian shore. These circumstances have led this town to have a unique architectural homogeneity since the core of the town was all built over the next decades after the calamity in what is a typical and highly preserved example of Sicilian baroque. The layout followed a grid system by Giovanni Battista Landolina and utilized the sloping hillside for scenographic effects. The architects Rosario Gagliardi, Francesco Sortino and others each participated in designing multiple structures. The town was dubbed the "Stone Garden" by Cesare Brandi and is currently listed among UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. Many of the newer structures are built of a soft tufa stone, which assumes a honey tonality under sunlight.[clarification needed] Parts of the cathedral, however, unexpectedly collapsed in 1996.

The city, which had lost its provincial capital status in 1817, rebelled against the House of Bourbon on 16 May 1860, leaving its gates open to Giuseppe Garibaldi and his expedition. Five months later, on 21 October, a plebiscite sealed the annexation of Noto to Piedmont.

In 1844, Noto was named a diocese, but in 1866 suffered the abolition of the religious guilds, which had been deeply linked to the city's structures and buildings.

Noto was freed from the fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini in July 1943. The Notinesi people voted in favour of the monarchy in the referendum of 1946.

Main sights[edit]

Noto is famous for its buildings from the early 18th century, many of which are considered to be among the finest examples of Sicilian baroque style. It is a place of many religious buildings and several palaces.

Palazzi and other buildings[edit]

  • Palazzo Ducezio, the town hall. Designed by Vincenzo Sinatra, it houses neo-classical style frescos by Antonio Mazza.
  • Palazzo Astuto.
  • Palazzo di Villadorata on via Nicolaci which was built by P. Labisi in 1733.
  • Palazzo di Lorenzo del Castelluccio
  • Town Library

Religious buildings[edit]

  • Noto Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Nicolò di Mira, finished in 1776)
  • Santa Agata church
  • Sant'Andrea Apostolo church
  • Anime Sante del Purgatorio ("Holy Souls of the Purgatory") church
  • Annunziata church
  • Sant'Antonio Abate church
  • Santa Caterina church
  • Santa Chiara church, with a precious Madonna (by Antonello Gagini), and Benedictine monastery,
  • Church of San Francesco d'Assisi (Immacolata)
  • San Carlo al Corso church, designed by Rosario Gagliardi
  • Collegio di San Carlo church
  • San Corrado church
  • Santissimo Crocifisso church
  • Crociferio di San Camillo church
  • San Domenico church by Rosario Gagliardi
  • Ecce Homo church
  • Sant'Egidio Vescovo church
  • San Girolamo church also known as Chiesa di Montevergine
  • Santa Maria dell'Arco: church and former Cistercian monastery, founded in 1212 under the patronage of Count Isimberto or Isemberto di Morengia and is wife Sara[8] The church moved from Arco to the old Noto, then after 1693 to the new Noto. Church designed by Rosario Gagliardi. The monastery was closed by 1789, and little remains of the original structure.[9]
  • Santa Maria del Carmelo church
  • Santa Maria del Gesù church
  • Santa Maria della Rotonda church
  • Santa Maria della Scala church
  • San Michele Arcangelo church
  • San Nicola di Mira church
  • Sacro Nome di Gesu church
  • San Pietro Martire church
  • San Pietro delle Rose (Saints Peter and Paul) church
  • Santissimo Salvatore church
  • Santissimo Salvatore: church and benedictine convent (1735), designed by Gagliardi. It has an oval plant, the interior divided by twelve columns housing a Madonna with Child from the 16th century
  • Spirito Santo church
  • Santissima Trinità church

Archaeological sites[edit]

The remains of Noto's ancient structures are almost entirely hidden beneath the ruins of the mediaeval town, except for three chambers cut into the rock. One is noted by an inscription in the library at Noto to have belonged to a gymnasium, while the other two were heroa (shrines of heroes). Explorations have discovered four cemeteries dating to the third Sicel period and one from the Greek period. Among other finds are catacombs of the Christian period and several Byzantine tombs.

About 6 kilometres (4 mi) south of Noto, on the left bank of the Tellaro (Helorus) river, stands a stone column about 10 metres (33 ft) high, which is believed to be a memorial to the surrender of Nicias. In the 3rd century BC, a tomb was excavated in the rectangular area which surrounds it, destroying an apparently pre-existing tomb. Remnants of a later burial site belonging to the necropolis of the small town of Helorus, 750 metres (2,460 ft) to the southeast, have been discovered. The Villa Romana del Tellaro is a Roman villa located south of Noto.

Nature reserves[edit]

Two nature reserves can be found near Noto: the Riserva naturale orientata Cavagrande del Cassibile, established in 1990,[10] and the Riserva naturale orientata Oasi Faunistica di Vendicari, established in 1984.[11]


In the Noto neighbourhood, a 32-m radiotelescope was installed by the Istituto di Radioastronomia di Bologna as part of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. It works in collaboration with a similar instrument in Medicina, Bologna.[12]

The city has held an annual flower festival, the Infiorata, every May since the 1980s, lining the Corrado Nicolaci with floral mosaics.[13]

One episode of the movie L'Avventura (1960) directed by Michelangelo Antonioni was shot in Noto and features views of its cathedral and square.[14]


The local area is home to several quality wine producers.


See also[edit]


  • Sicily and Its Islands, 2004 - Ugo La Rosa editore
  1. ^ "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ The Val in Val di Noto is in Sicilian and in Italian a grammatically masculine term, and it does not refer to a 'Valley' as is usual in Italian geographical names, which are although always grammatically feminine, but to one of the Provinces or Governorates into which Sicily was administratively divided under Arab rule and up until the 1812 administrative reform. The corresponding Arabic term is wāli (والي), and the Sicilian val is akin to the Arab wilayah (ولاية) or the Turkish vilayet (ولايت), used as it would be a calque of the English term shire
  4. ^ Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto - listing on UNESCO website
  5. ^ Jeremy Johns (7 Oct 2002). Arabic Administration in Norman Sicily: The Royal Diwan. Cambridge University Press. p. 31. ISBN 9781139440196.
  6. ^ Distinta relatione dello spauentoso eccidio cagionato da'terremoti ultimamente con replicate scosse, accaduto a 9 & 11 di Gennaro di 1693 Regno di Sicilia by Alessandro Burgos, Palermo and Naples, 1893.
  7. ^ Storia della città di Noto, by Salvatore Russo Ferruggia, Pappalardo publisher, 1838): page 66.
  8. ^ Sicilia da Le Cento Citta d'Italia, page 72.
  9. ^ I Cistercensi, website.
  10. ^ "Riserva naturale orientata Cavagrande del Cassibile". Comune di Siracusa (in Italian). 30 September 2022. Archived from the original on 22 March 2023. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Vendicari". Libero Consorzio Comunale di Siracusa - Portale Turismo (in Italian). Archived from the original on 13 April 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  12. ^ Noto VLBI home page. Noto.ira.inaf.it. Retrieved on 18 December 2012.
  13. ^ "L'INFIORATA di NOTO( Noto's Flower Festival )NOTO on-line: City of Noto, Unesco World Heritage Site". Archived from the original on 2016-06-21. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
  14. ^ "L'Avventura film locations". The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. Retrieved 9 May 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Adler, Nancy Lockwood. "Noto: A City Rebuilt" History Today (Sept 1983), Vol. 33 Issue 9, pp 39–42.

External links[edit]