TRANSFEERO: Reliable airport transfers worldwide
Book a private transfer at over 1500 airports, stations and ports worldwide

Imagine you have had a great time on Mt Etna, the most beautiful volcano in Europe. Imagine you have admired its woods, lavic deserts, smoking craters. Maybe you have also admired some eruptive phenomena! Now, your eyes filled with wonder, you are ready to admire something else. Something historic, maybe. Some architecture. Come with us, on a one-day trip from Mt Etna to Noto Antica (Ancient Noto).

Towards Ancient Noto, first stop: Siracusa

The new motorway connecting Etna and its towns to Noto runs along the east coast. It goes through small and big locations that would require complete guided tours. But we do not have so much time, so here are some of the most famous places to visit. Siracusa, of course, is our first stop. The tour among the ruins of the Archaeologic Park is a must!

There you shall admire: the Greek Theatre, the Ear of Dionysus, the Nymphaeum Grotto, the Roman amphitheatre. Never miss a nice granita-based breakfast on the Ortigia island – the old town – in front of the Arethusa fountain. You may also have it sitting in front of the Cathedral, built on the ruins of the ancient temple of Athena.

A stop in Avola

Continuing southwards, a stop in Avola is a must. Because this baroque town in addition to the beauty of its dozens of eighteenth-century churches also offers delicious gastronomy. Famous for almonds, which are a product of excellence here, it will pamper you with the REAL almond granita, with almond pastries and biscuits. And it will cheer you up with its famous wine, Nero d’Avola! Between one tasting and another, you will admire its architecture. In particular, the ruins of the ancient tuna factory and the mysterious Dolmen, a possibly prehistoric building found in 1961.

Baroque Noto on the way to Ancient Noto

baroque Noto was born from the ash of Ancient Noto

At the end of the motorway you exit right at Noto and you meet the “modern” city first. It is modern only in its suburbs, actually, because the wonderful old town has remained intact since the 18th century! A stunning view of pale stone buildings that change colour according to the time of day. Palaces pink in the morning, dazzling white at noon, golden in the afternoon are embellished with wrought iron balconies, sculpted masks, bell towers and portals.

It would take at least half a week to really visit Noto, exploring every historical detail. But along this route you will admire only the most famous monuments: the Cathedral of St Nicolò, the church of St Carlo, that of St Domenico and that of St Chiara. You will enjoy the spectacular view of Via Nicolaci with the famous balconies supported by dozens of baroque masks. Also admire the noble palaces (Palazzo Nicolaci, Palazzo Trigona, Palazzo Landolina Sant’Alfano …) and the beautiful town hall Palazzo Ducezio.

The ruins of Ancient Noto

Leaving Noto, driving towards the north, after 25 minutes we will reach the site where the old city once stood, then razed to the ground by the earthquake of 1693. Unlike many other inhabited centers, which have canceled the old sites or rebuilt above, Noto  “moved” somewhere else. So the old city has been abandoned in the countryside. Eternal witness of an immense drama!

Among the ruins of Ancient Noto you can admire: ancient remains from the Greek era, one of the access gates to the city (photo above the title, by Mboesch), the remains of the Royal Castle, those of the prisons. You will walk among the ruins of the churches of Carmine,  Jesuits, St. Maria della Provvidenza. Among other things, the ruins of the noble Landolina palace and part of the ancient fortified walls are visible. In the surroundings there are caves and catacombs which, at the time of the earthquake, were inhabited by peasants and poor people. In the Grotta del Carciofo cave you can still see symbols of the Jewish religion, a sign that this religious community was present in the city.

It is impressive to walk through the streets of a city that died 300 years ago and that has been home to memories and ghosts ever since. We can only try to imagine how much splendour and how much beauty it was possible to admire in those same streets before the worst earthquake in the history of Sicily canceled everything forever. Yet, if Ancient Noto had not died, today that jewel of the world baroque which is the current Noto would not exist.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

Airport Transfers