Baroque Hill Towns in Sicily
Rebuilt after an earthquake devastated much of the region in 1693, Sicily is famous for its striking baroque villages. Most notable of these are the hill towns of the Val di Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here are some of the best to add to your Sicily itinerary.
Noto’s magnificent churches and palazzos are characteristic of the Sicilian baroque style, and a walking tour is the most atmospheric way to admire the town’s architecture. Combine a tour with the nearby Roman Villa of Tellaro or the traditional fishing village of Marzamemi.
Catania is the largest of Sicily’s UNESCO-listed hill towns. Along with many fine examples of Sicilian baroque architecture, it also boasts historic attractions from other periods, including ancient Greek and Roman times. Along the way, take a detour just north of Catania to Mt. Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, which looms on the horizon.
Like Noto, Ragusa was rebuilt in a different place post-earthquake. The town is most notable for its high baroque style, of which there are nine churches and seven palazzos to admire.
While the ruins of Modica’s old city lie on the hilltop, the baroque town stretches down the hillside, offering magnificent views over the surrounding countryside. Often combined with a visit to nearby Ragusa, the town’s prize attraction is the exquisite Cathedral of St. George.
The baroque town of Palazzolo was erected on the site of an ancient Greek city, and you can still see the remnants of its ancient past along with a number of stunning Sicilian baroque churches.
Uniquely situated between the three hills of San Matteo, Santa Croce, and San Domenico, Scicli is a charming maze of gullies, grottoes, and gardens. Highlights include the ornate bell towers of the Sant’Ignazio church, the grand facade of Palazzo Beneventano, the caves of Chiafura, and the beautiful Via Mormino Penna.