What to see in Sicily ? You do not need to be an architecture buff to appreciate the beauty of Baroque towns in Sicily. The distinctive style of Sicilian Baroque can be seen throughout the island, however the towns in the southeast of Sicily, in the area called the Val di Noto, have the highest concentration of architectural gems. My favorites among them are Noto, Ragusa, Modica and Scicli, each of them choke-full of opulent Baroque buildings.
After the devastating earthquake in 1693 many Sicilian towns had to be rebuilt. Many local architects unleashed their talent and used the opportunity to create stunning displays of their own interpretation of the Baroque style fashionable in mainland Italy at that period.
The town of Noto is often called the “Stone Garden” for its exuberant Baroque buildings. A stroll along Via Nicolaci and Corso Vittorio Emanuele will have your head spinning from the amount of flamboyant and opulent facades: roaring lions, putti, grinning faces, horses, gargoyles, curves and flowers. Each balcony here a masterpiece, each corner is a statement.
Modica is another charming town teeming with joie de vivre in stone. The two large cathedrals, Il Duomo di San Giogio and Il Duomo di San Pietro are fine examples of Sicilian Baroque. The splendid steps of Palazzo Polara and the elegant wrought iron balconies of Palazzo Napolino-Tommasi Rosso will leave you speechless.
The town of Ragusa is split in two parts: Ragusa Superiore and Ragusa Ibla. Most of the Baroque splendour is concentrated in the lower part of town, Ragusa Ibla. The Basilica di San Giorgio has an impressive flight of 250 steps leading to the entrance and an impressive interior. Wonder around old narrow streets and pause for a coffee on the central Piazza Duomo to soak up in the sublime atmosphere of this majestic town.
Athough Scicli is smaller and less known than other Baroque towns, it certainly packs a punch with its extravagant palaces and lavish churches. Via Francesco Mormina Penna and Via San Bartolomeo are lined up with architectural gems. The famous detective TV show “Inspector Montalbano” was filmed in Scicli for many years and, if you are a fan you might recognize many locations, such as Via Francesco Mormina Penna and Palazzo Iacono.
Photos by: Jacqueline Poggi, Hari Seldon, Stanislav Georgiev, Francesco Piasentin.