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Saturday October 25, 2014 












Baroque from Val di Noto
In Val di Noto, you can admire carrubo, agrumeti and almonds, but the most relevant there are the churches, palaces, sumptuous and richly decorated, very important, a real triumph of decoration and architecture, representing the distinctive character of this land, which suffered a serious tragedy, the earthquake of 1693, which damaged the south-eastern side of the island, destroying completely Catania, Noto, Modica, Ragusa and very other centers.
In Rome, the reconstruction architects were inspired by the masterpieces of the Roman Baroque, improving its shapes exuberance, volumes and subjects chosen for the sculpture decoration. It is considered an original baroque, commonly named 'Barocco del Val di Noto', whose distinctive characteristic between different cities is the construction material used. There is relevant the gray baroque-darkness of Catania, whose gray color is due to the use of lava stone, quite different from the bright honey color of Noto. Visiting the Val di Noto allows to discover that style that, simply is the original style of each place, giving back to this single island, with excellent architectonic and artistic scenography.

First Day
Catania, the Baroque Etna city
 
Between Via Etnea and Bellini Village
 
'Dolce Catania'
Second Day
   
In Noto, the 'giardino di pietra' [stone garden]
 
Baroque is present in via Nicolac, in Noto Alta
 
Caffè Sicilia, author's bakery
Third Day
   
In Modica, "...a rose stone proscenio.."
 
To Ragusa Ibla, seeking "the impression of a boundary"
 
Traditional dinner

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Baroque from Val di Noto

Saint Agatha Abbey





 
Start
 
 
Itinerary
First Day

Morning
Catania is the Etna's town, with volcano lava in its walls, but it is a town with intense volcano relation, with a special dark color that characterizes the monuments, the houses, the main entrances, often realized with lava stone. Catania had a "sad" century, the '600, when, in about 30 years, it was covered with lava (1669) and destroyed by a terrible earthquake (1693). But it is also the century that marks the renovation, with a new urban order, large arteries, squares and monuments. Change face from today to the tomorrow Catania, after the Etna eruption in 1669 and the earthquake of 1693. The two cataclysm oblige to rebuild almost entire even the geographic center of the town, whereas the Greek were installed themselves and the Normen had raised the first Cathedral. It is run back to urban preserving rules and modern styles; keeping a baroque touch, for which Catania is well known and the city is a first proof. The Square of the Cathedral, heart of the town in medieval period but now of baroque appearance. This space, from always symbol is some secular power is of that monk, was planned from one of the most famous architects of the eighteenth-century rebuilding, G. B. Vaccarini. Its is in fact it Fountain of the Elephant, with the homonymous composition from Bernini in Rome. Unusual and very suggestive, the special mix of elements from Christian religion (the angelic table, the cross, the lily and the palm to represent Sant'Agata, Patron of the town) and pagan elements (the obelisk, bound to the Egyptian religion of Iside). From the same architect, the Cathedral, keeping, after the earthquake, some restive of the place of religion built by Normanni at the end of the XI century. Demonstrating that this is the most relevant city church, there is the grave of Vincenzo Bellini and the treasury of Sant'Agata, who's the building is dedicated. To the Roman martyr it is titled also the eighteenth-century one Badia di Sant'Agata, at the left flank of the Cathedral, other sample of the architecture of Vaccarini. At the right hand of the Cathedral, Porta Uzeda opened after the earthquake of 1693 in the medieval wall. In front of the church facade, Via Garibaldi, interrupted by Mazzini Square, from where via Auteri conduce to the left hand to the Castle Ursino, the excellence 'mark' due to the Emperor Federico II of Svevia at the town; the inside spaces, simple and rational like all the Sveva architecture, with cornice of the municipal Museum, rich collections from the Roman period until the '700. Another of the eminent citizens of Catania is remembered until today. In the house of Giovanni Verga, on via Garibaldi, arriving from via Castel Ursino. Knowing this true and actual plan of urban intervention to direct the reconstruction of Catania, visit some roads. Starting on the wide via Vittorio Emanuele, continuing by via Crociferi, with Roman ruins and the Bellini museum, renowned as excellence symbol of the city: the baroque of the '700. It is almost certainly one of the aces generators of the ancient installation of Catania via Vittorio Emanuele, long artery that from the sea directs to west advising the orientation of the inhabited growth until the XX century. Its appearance is therefore eighteenth-century (buildings like good local example of baroque), but there are many monuments backing to the past of the town. The Roman theater, located in the slope of the hill, exploiting its profile (currently there is discussed the existence of a most ancient Greek installation). Then the Odeon, just smaller than the previous installation, where were developed competence tests. In fact, also between the walls of the neighbor Museum Belliniano : many testimonies remembering that the Catania author was born there. Then, here, you find the Via dei Crociferi, other route of the post-earthquake reconstruction and the place for excellence of Catania, with churches and convent of too baroque lines from the eighteenth-century. The theory of religion buildings begins with it church di San Benedetto, majestic and panoramic: all outside thanks to the staircase contained from a grateful one in iron, and all inside for the stucco to the walls. The church of San Francesco Borgia, with wide and high staircase, restored after the post-earthquake reconstruction to the original seventeenth-century shapes (to the Jesuits that ordered returns to the cupola frescos). And it finishes with it church of San Giuliano, with convex part and tight cupola from a loggia, testimony of the work of G. B. Vaccarini. Ending via Gesuiti, that begins with this place of religion, it is opened square Dante, typically from the eighteenth-century, conducing to the church of San Nicolò, from the '700: very evocative is the incomplete facade, incredible the inside vastness (the church is between the most spacious of the Sicily), where the decoration is only concentrated in the altars.
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University Palace

Collegiata

Amphitheater

 
Start
 
First Day
Baroque from Val di Noto

Afternoon
Modern and refined: the Catania road of the high class shopping... and the residences of the middle-class people in the 800s. But this is also an of the zones where the presence of Sant'Agata is more inherent, remembering a lot of religion places dedicated to the Patron of Catania, like the church of Sant'Agata to the Prison, risen on the place in which the martyr would have been sacrificed, from where the story of the patron of the town is begun. The XVIII century is evidenced in via Vittorio Emanuele and Crociferi -beginning always in the square of the Cathedral -another excellence example: via Etnea, the road for excellence of the rich bourgeoisie from the 800s and an of the most elegant of the town of beginnings third millennium; but not all buildings are from that century. Starting, we consider the harmonious square University, and that in fact goes back to the '700; having been realized after the earthquake of 1693 in part by reconstruction architect for antonomasia: G. B. Vaccarini. From the first years of that century, the Collegiata, with typical shape of the slow baroque: curved facade, elegant molding and decorations. There, the square Stesicoro, backing to another memory of the Roman past, interrupts the refined touch of via Etnea. At left side, in fact, the amphitheater , finished in II century, using lava for the base structure. Via Cappuccinos carries therefore in an angle of where all Catania talks about the patron of the town. The wild olive that flowers to the center of the Santo Carcere Square and the neighbor church of Sant'Agata al Santo Carcere, are evidences from the baroque of the 700s to a fifteenth-century religion place: the relic evoking the Roman martyr, that would have been shut away before the torture in a vain under the church. Go to via Cappuccinos, via Santa Maddalena, conducing to via Tomaselli, at the right side, Bellini Village, one of the green lungs of the town, ideal to rest after visiting the Catania monuments, thanks to the shadow offered by Mediterranean and exotic species.
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Saint Agatha Olivette

Cannoli

 
Start
 
First Day
Baroque from Val di Noto

Evening
Catania and the spectacular via Etnea, with a lot of ice cream shops, celebrating every day the rite of the granite with brioche, one break that replaces the first breakfast and, because no? the evening appetizer. Relevant via Etnea business is the Savia Pasticceria, where for 103 years the same family continue the excellent traditional pasticceria and ice cream, typical in this region. Particularly they are well known the cannoli of ricotta and pistacchi, the cassate, the almond of pasta of cookies, the torroni and the olivette candite.
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Baroque from Val di Noto

View, Noto

Landolina Palace



 
Start
 
 
Itinerary
Second Day

Morning
Town of ancient and noble cultural traditions, rich of religious monuments and civilians, defined "Garden of Stone" by the art critic Cesare Brandi, Noto is called the capital of the Sicilian Baroque; a sole baroque, that captures the light and shine through wherever: in the palaces, in the churches, in the convents, in the monasteries, in the panoramic staircases, in the sacred newsstands, in the roads hidden and in the most modest alleys. Planned on the colle delle Meti and rebuilt by the architects Gagliardini, Sinatra, Labisi together to the numerous local workforces, the new town, after the destruction of the Ancient Noto, was built in a moderate order according to the architectural and urban rules of the Sicily of the 700s. The entrance to the historical center is the Porta Reale or "Ferdinandea", of pure nineteenth-century style, to the of there of which it is outlined the exceptional main artery of the town: the Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Following the course the three central squares touch themselves. First stage of this itinerary is Immacolata square, where you find the Church of S. Francesco all'Immacolata with an annexed convent, planned by architects Gagliardi and Sinatra. Closed sideways scenography, with curve lines, the Monastery of the SS. Salvatore, culminating in the magnificent tower of the building belvedere. Continuing, at left side, almost to contribute with the opposite basilica of the SS. Salvatore, the Santa Chiara Church, work of Gagliardi. We arrived to the heart of the baroque town: the "area maioris ecclesiae", the second and large square an of the most attractive of Italy, the Municipio Square, around which you show buildings of great architectonic quality. The Cathedral has a monumental staircase and dominates the attractive square downstairs. Due to the time and negligence, the building collapsed suddenly in March/ 1996, and it still today submitted to intense restoration activities. At right hand of the Cathedral, the SS. Salvatore complex, that for its scenographic appearance and the excellent architectonic fusion of its three constructions (the Monastery, the Basilica, and the Seminar) communicates a large harmony of styles. At left side, the Palazzo Landolina dei marchesi di S. Alfano, the most ancient noble netina Norman family. You find two semicircular little places going downstairs of the Cathedral: square Landolina, facing the homonymous palace, with an upright moment in honor to the falls of the Grande Guerra; and square Trigona, enriched from an artistic platform in iron beaten. Always in Municipio Square, the Palace Ducezio, Seat of the Town Hall, planned by Sinatra in 1748.
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Nicolaci Palace

San Domenico, Noto



 
Start
 
Second Day
Baroque from Val di Noto

Afternoon
From Municipio Square, surprisingly you find open at right side, the via Nicolaci : where the scenographic effect of the baroque architecture reaches its maximum point; it is, in fact, one of the more beautiful palaces of the world, Nicolaci del Principe di Villadorata. A little more beyond, the third space, square XVI May. The name is due to the anti Borbon movements of 1860. At the right hand, it is found a cottage, enriched from an artistic fountain surmounted from a marble statue dedicated to the mythological Ercole, work of G. Orlando. Two excellent marble and bronze sculptures dedicated to the poem author Mariannina Coffa and to the statesman Matteo Raeli, two netini characters from the 800s. In front of the square XVI May, the Church of S. Domenico, Masterpiece of the Gagliardi, considered one of the most refined buildings of the Sicilian baroque. Parallel to the corso, the via Cavour, where you can admire noble palaces slow baroque style: palace Di Lorenzo dei Marchesi di Castelluccio; Astuto dei baroni di Fargione, palace Trigona dei marchesi di Cannicarao, whose rooms show frescos, with paintings of the netino painter Mazza. they. Ascending from the opposite staircase Palace Trigona and go through via Mariannina Coffa, you arrive to Noto Alta. It is reached by via Impellizzeri, where it lifts itself majestic the homonymous palace, still inhabited from the barons of San Giacomo, the highest accomplishment of Noto Alta in slow baroque style. Going left from the Palace Impellizzeri, we finish the Noto visit, going to via Sallicano up to Square Mazzini, where it is found the Church of the SS. Crocifisso at the end of impressive stairs. It is the religious building most important in Noto Alta, built according to urban style, with the Cathedral.
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Marzaresi ai pistacchi

 
Start
 
Second Day
Baroque from Val di Noto

Evening
Excellent Sicilian baroque examples in Noto, to be admired by native and visiting people from any world place. The Noto gastronomic symbol is the almond, largely cultivated there. Well-know preparation of the "almond cream," obtained simply mincing a lot of almonds and mixing with sugar and a little water until to obtain a homogenous and spread able product. In this manner, the aroma of the almond is excited to the utmost. The product is used to enrich crostate, cakes, creams and other. In summer, its cream, diluted with cold water, becomes a refreshing and sought milk. In Noto, the most well-known address is the Coffee Sicily in whose laboratory they are born sought examples of excellent Sicilian pasticceria sent all over the world.
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Baroque from Val di Noto

San Giorgio, Modica





 
Start
 
 
Itinerary
Third Day

Morning
"..Un teatro era il paese, un proscenio di pietre rosa, una festa di mirabilia. E come odorava di gelsomino sul far della sera .." [The country was a theater, the proscenium was of rose stone, the party was wonderful. And the smelt was from jasmine...] These words -from the poet Gesualdo Bufalino- keep the entire Modica's atmosphere. Between the most picturesque Sicilian towns, Modica is situated in the south zone of the Mountains Iblei and it is divided in two original areas: Modica Alta, them whose constructions almost climb the mountain rocks, and Modica Bassa, down in the valley, where a time ran the two rivers, Ianni Mauro and Pozo dei Pruni, today covered due to the numerous flood, and where today you can admire the Corso Umberto, the main city road. With slow Baroque style appearance, almost entirely kept after the earthquake (1693), the Modica visit is starting in Municipio Square, center of the institutional life and heart of the town. Closed from nineteenth-century buildings, it is characterized by the presence of the cliff of the Castle, with the tower of the clock. At the right hand, the former S. Domenico Convent, seat of the Palace of Town, with a cloister that has varied considerably in different periods: remain the powerful pillars and arcs. At left hand, a staircase conducing to a 50's Crypt. At the side, the Church of San Domenico, built on the end of the XIV century, together to the adjacent convent. Going again by Corso Umberto, at left side, the former Monastery of the Benedettine, in 1866 seat of the Tribunal. Very near, the Church of San Pietro, Patron of the town. The building, considered the Cathedral of the Città Bassa, is original of the XIV century, but was rebuilt in the XVII century. There, you can admire an elegant staircase, with statues of twelve apostles. At the right hand of Corso Umberto, immediately after the Cathedral of S. Pietro, you would admire the excellent Palazzo Tedeschi of Modica, with musical sirens, dolphins and masks, single proof of the refined art of the Modica stonecutter. Immediately after, the Church of S. Maria del Soccorso , built in 1630 by the Jesuits, in the time of Vittoria Colonna, Contessa di Modica. Convex curve facade, typical of the Jesuit baroque, annexed to the church, the monumental Palazzo degli Studi, current seat of the Liceo Classico. Facing the Palazzo degli Studi, a small nineteenth-century theater, in slow style baroque, the Theater Garibaldi. Continuing, at the right hand, the finest palace of Modica Bassa, Palace Manenti, whose facade is decorated with a large balcony, art nouveau grating and original corbel. Very near, turning to the right on Via Luigi Barone, the panoramic 250-steps staircase conducing to the Orti del Piombo and the Church of S. Giorgio, the Cathedral of the Città Alta, prototype of the eighteenth-century churches of Sicily and masterpiece of the Ibleo baroque. Continuing to Modica Alta, you find other eighteenth-century churches; impressive, at the highest part of the town, the , with staircase and 26 pillars supporting some statues, of which today you can admire only three. The facade, built in 1839, is presented on two orders, enriched with two couples of columns in the central body. The inside, very bright, is decorated according to the that time, in the presbytery and chapel, valuable works in stucco. Going by Corso Regina Margherita up to the church of the SS. Nicolò and Erasmo, dedicated to S. Teresa D' Avila. Continuing, the Corso Francesco Crispi, thePalace Tommasi Rosso, impressive baroque building, with modeled balconies and rich decorations. Continuing by Corso Crispi, at left hand, the small Church of S. Giaseppe keeping the marble Nativity (1513) of unknown local artist. Going a little beyond, the evocative Sbalzo place, with the characteristic residences in cave, until the flank of the Church of S. Maria of Betlem. Going by Marchesa Tedeschi, you return to the Municipio Square. Go again by Corso Umberto, you arrive to the entrance of Via De Leva, where, in an evocative little garden, you find the Portale De Leva. In slow style-gothic chiaramontano, represented the entrance to the chisetta of the Holy Apostles Filippo and Giacomo. Very near from there you find the Church of the Carmine, whose portal and rosone are original ones, surviving after the earthquake of 1693, that destroyed the whole building. At the inside, the excellent Annunciazione, of Antonello Gagini.
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San Giorgio Church

San Giovanni Cathedral





 
Start
 
Third Day
Baroque from Val di Noto

Afternoon
"Arriving the impression is of a boundary." said Leonardo Sciascia about Ibla, true and actual jewelry of the baroque art in Sicily. Although to the centuries, the 1693 earthquake, the historical quarter of Ragusa preserved unbroken its glamour and its art. The visit of the town can begin in Square of the Cathedral, in ascent and closed upwards from the majestic baroque scenery of the Basilica of San Giorgio, an of the greatest expressions of the sacred baroque architecture. Finished in 1775 according to the Gagliardi design, it presents an elaborate facade divided in three parts, like columns, with decorative motive, typical of the period. Going out from the Cathedral, go to the via XXV April, then, you arrive to the Square Pola, where you can admire the splendid Church of San Giuseppe, with very similar facade to the Basilica of S. Giorgio, attributed to Gagliardi. Its elegant inside shows luxury altars, adorned with paintings and a wonderful statue of silver of S. Giuseppe. Continuing the walk on via XXV April you arrive to the Gardens Iblei, from which you can enjoy magnificent sights of mountains and the valley of the river Irminio. To the inside of the villa, you find three churches: San Giacomo, San Domenico —with a campanile decorated with majolica— and Cappuccinos —that preserve the Triptych of Pietro Novelli, an of the more attractive and interesting tele in the neighborhood. In the public garden, the Portal of San Giorgio in Catalan gothic style, what stays of the old church of San Giorgio destroyed from the earthquake of 1693. Little far away, in via XXIV May, rises the Church of Santa Maria delle Scale, rebuilt after the earthquake, preserving the portal, a fine gothic pulpit and the campanile. Inside, interesting arcs of gothic and renaissance type and an image from XVI century of the Virgin, terracotta work of the school of the Gagini. From the opposite terrace the church has divided the staircase, exiting to Ragusa Ibla, the ancient city unit where you find, in a tight alley, the eighteenth-century Church of Santa Maria dell'Idria. The church was ordered to build by the Knights of Malt in 1639, being in Ibla the Knights Gerosolimitani Order. Almost to create a sole architectonic complex with the close Idria Church and with the palace of the Cancelleria, there you find the Palace Cosentini, perhaps the first palace of Ragusa built in baroque style. Another building to be visited is the Cathedral of San Giovanni, located in the homonymous square. The church, built between 1706 and 1760, presents an attractive baroque facade, richly decorated, an impressive portal and a campanile to spire.
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Pasta alla Norma

 
Start
 
Third Day
Baroque from Val di Noto

Evening
In a magnificent area restored, immersed in the Ibla country, it is found the restaurant Baglio —La Pergola; with local tastes, excellently prepared, giving life to a kitchen of strong personality, and yet delicate. Excellent also the cantina, between the richest ones of Sicily


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