WHS: Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto, Italy

From the Villa Romana del Casale we hurried off along Sicily’s southern coast as time was getting a little short, with quick visits to the various properties that make up today’s World Heritage Site, a collection of various towns and monuments of the region that would take weeks to go through thoroughly:

Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (South-Eastern Sicily)


The Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto is comprised of components of eight towns located in south-eastern Sicily (Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa and Scicli). These historic centres and urban environments reflect the great, post-seismic rebuilding achievement of the decades following the catastrophic earthquake of 1693, which ravaged towns across south-eastern Sicily. The rebuilding, restoration and reconstruction of these communities resulted in the creation of an exceptional group of towns, all reflecting the late Baroque architecture of the 17th century in all its forms and applications.

The eight components of the property differ in size and represent a range of responses to the rebuilding needs. They include the entire old town of Caltagirone, Noto and Ragusa; specific urban areas of Catania and Scicli; and isolated monuments in the historic town centres of Modica, Palazzolo Acreide and Militello Val di Catania. Catania was rebuilt on the site of the original town while others, such as Noto, were rebuilt on new sites. At Ragusa and Palazzolo Acreide, new urban centres were created next to the ancient ones. The centres of Scicli and Modica were moved and rebuilt in adjoining areas already partially urbanized, and Caltagirone was simply repaired.

The towns exhibit a plethora of late Baroque art and architecture of high quality and of a remarkable homogeneity as a result of the circumstances of time, place, and social context in which they were created. However, they also display distinctive innovations in the town planning and urban rebuilding. The property also represents a considerable collective undertaking in response to a catastrophic seismic event…

The lead picture there is “the entire old town” of Caltagirone, renowned for its pottery and the #1 feature of which is, according to Trip Advisor, a staircase. No, really, a staircase. But a very pretty staircase!

Next, we dropped by Ragusa, which also has its entire old town inscribed:

That gets our vote for the most scenic of the three, and a great place to have lunch!

And finally, we stopped by Noto the third of the entire town inscriptions — and if you only have time to visit one property, this is the one we’d recommend; doesn’t have quite the scenic vistas of the other two you see above (at least not from any vantage point we could easily find) —

— but the Corso Vittorio Emanuele III is definitely the most impressive civic panorama of any on the list!

That was enough for us to conclude that we’d put a creditable effort into counting this site as visited, with all due apologies to the other five towns whose properties we’ll get to next time we’re at loose ends in Sicily:


p dir=”ltr”>Put one or all on your list — post-Renaissance, Norman, Greek, Roman, visiting Sicily’s World Heritage Sites is like a condensed version of all of Mediterranean history, isn’t it?

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