1. Noto: Sicilian Baroque Architecture Guided Walking Tour
The guided tour of Noto will take you back to the Baroque era with its buildings embellished with decorations, stairways and statues like a stone garden and having become the capital of Sicilian Baroque. The guided tour starts from the entrance door to the historic center, the Porta Reale or Porta Ferdinandea, near the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the nearby Convent of the Holy Savior. We go up the beautiful staircase to be able to admire one of the most beautiful interiors in Noto, with wonderful frescoes and decorations. Walking along the main street, a few steps away we find another beautiful church in which the Baroque style is very recognizable especially inside: we are talking about the Church of Santa Chiara next to a former Benedictine monastery, where you can admire the columns embellished with stuccoes, statues of the apostles and putti. The tour continues arriving in the Piazza del Duomo which houses the majestic Palazzo Ducezio, seat of the Town Hall, built between the 18th and 19th centuries, with its frescoed roof and rooms in which the mirrors create games of visual illusions that make them more large. In front of this baroque-style jewel stands the monumental staircase that leads to the stupendous Cathedral of S. Nicolò, the very symbol of Noto with its honey color that characterizes it at sunset and which we will visit inside. Built in the eighteenth century, it has collapsed three times over time, it has been rebuilt even if many frescoes have been lost; the beautiful facade has two bell towers, one housing a bell while the other has a clock. We continue the visit reaching another well-known symbolic place, namely Via Nicolaci, the street where the infiorata is set up (a carpet of flowers lying on the road) which attracts many tourists and we will also visit externally from some of the most beautiful buildings in Noto. One of these palaces for sure is Palazzo Nicolaci with its beautiful and famous balconies decorated in the lower part with statues, masks, animals and various figures carved in the limestone in the typical Baroque style. Walking through the alleys of the historic center we can admire the Loggia del Mercato which was once the seat of the Noto market with the wrought iron loggia and today used for cultural events. We end the guided tour by discovering the elegant building that houses the Tina di Lorenzo Theater in neoclassical style and the marble Fountain of Hercules built in the 1700s.