An afternoon in Noto, Italy

Noto-Italy

One of the most charming towns I visited on my journey through Southern Italy & Sicily had to be Noto. You’ve never heard of it? Well, that’s not surprising. Neither had I.

Located about 30 kilometers southwest of Syracuse, this Baroque beauty is home to one of Sicily’s most beautiful historic centers and is an absolute must on any Sicilian sojourn. The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was once destroyed by an earthquake in the 17th century and then completely rebuilt from scratch.

Noto, Sicily
Noto’s Corso Vittorio Emanuele

As soon as you enter through the Porta Reale (the main gate) you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time. You’re now on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the city’s main thoroughfare, which is flanked by golden churches, stunning palazzi, ornate balconies and interesting Baroque architecture everywhere you look. As you begin to make your way down the Corso, don’t forget to peek down the alleyways as you take it all in.

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Noto’s Cathedral

As you begin your explorations, you’ll encounter several churches along the Corso. One that is definitely worth a visit is Chiesa di Santa Chiara. While the exterior isn’t much to look at, the interior is stunning, and the balcony offers great views of the Cathedral, the main focal point of Noto’s “skyline”.

If you’re not afraid of heights and small, enclosed spaces, make sure you also check out the Chiesa di San Carlo. Not only is the interior gorgeous, but for just € 1.50 you can climb a narrow, spiral staircase up to the church’s campanile (bell tower) for truly breathtaking views over much of Noto.

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Views of Noto from Chiesa di San Carlo

As you continue to make your way down the Corso, be sure to stop at one of the many colorful gift shops to pick up gifts or reminders of your afternoon in Noto. If you are – or know – a chef, a local cookbook makes a great gift. Or perhaps a necklace made from lava stone of nearby Mt. Etna is more your style. Like political comedy? A t-shirt with the phrase “Forget the gun. Take the cannoli.” definitely caught my eye and made me giggle. Whatever you crave, checking out the wares of the local gift shops are a great way to pass the time.

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What will you bring home?

After you’ve strolled the Corso, explored the alleyways, climbed a couple of bell towers and shopped for souvenirs, you’ll undoubtedly need an afternoon pick me up.

It’s said there is a rivalry between two of the neighboring cafes as to who serves the best desserts in town. Caffe’ Sicilia, located at Corso Vittorio Emanuele 125, is an institution that has been serving up its sweet delectables since 1892. Dolceria Corrado Costanzo, located at Via Silvio Spaventa 9, is a bit quieter but offers up instagram-worthy plated desserts . Both shops offer exquisite gelato, granita and plenty of gorgeous little cakes and pastries.

So who is the best? My recommendation: Order something from each shop, along with a cafe of course, and do your own little taste test! You’ll be very glad you did.

Did you know? In Sicily, if you order “cannoli” they’ll ask you how many you want. Cannoli is plural. If you want just one, order a “cannolo”, which is the singular and means “little tube.”
(But really, who can eat just one?)

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This blog post is a part of:


Life in Wanderlust

33 thoughts on “An afternoon in Noto, Italy

  1. Very cool article I would love to visit, but I am afraid of heights and narrow spaces so maybe I don’t check that place 🙂 haha and I had now idea about the cannoli.

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    1. Oh no! Well maybe skip the church and just enjoy the views from other parts of the city. The entire town is beautiful!

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  2. Oh haven’t heard of Noto. The fiance and I are planning for our honeymoon next year and we wanted to visit Prague and Italy. However since Italy is a huge country we want to save it to a later trip, thanks for the suggestion we might look into visiting Noto in case we push through with our Italian trip 🙂

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    1. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Prague and Italy is an amazing choice for a honeymoon. And you’re right, Italy is so big and varied it deserves it’s own trip! But I’m not sure you can even see everything in just one trip to Italy. I’ve been 3 or 4 times now and there is still so much more I want to see and re-see! But, whatever you do – enjoy it and congratulations again!

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    1. Thank you so much! You should definitely book that trip to Italy! And thanks for the compliment on the photo. I swear, that car could not have parked in a better spot for me to take that picture!

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  3. I love places which makes you feel like you’ve walked back in time and this place is absolutely it! I need to research about this, could be my next holiday. 🙂 I never knew that thing about cannoli and yes, who eats only one of it? :p

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    1. Abigail, it is just as beautiful as any other popular city in Italy – if not more beautiful because it is still relatively unruined by tourism. I think it’s because it’s located in Sicily and is a bit harder for tourists to get to.

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  4. I adore Italian architecture, and this little town of Noto has some super cute attractions! I have never heard of this town before, and now I need to add to my ever growing travel wish list.

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  5. To be honest, I didn’t know of Noto. I am going to the major Italian cities next year. Only if I would have known about this place earlier, I would have definitely put it in my travel list.

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  6. I have fear of heights but I always get curious what to see up there. So I think I would love to climb as well the spiral ladder of Chiesa di San Carlo…
    This is a perfect place to try gelato and cannoli… or cannoliS to make plural of plurals… 🙂

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  7. Definitely ornate and mesmerizing. The architectural details are just amazing as I can see in your lovely pictures. Would love to know more about the history of the place. Will be looking it up for sure.

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  8. Actually, I have heard about Noto (I think I am a travel nerd). It is one of those places I have wanted to visit in Sicily for a long time. There are other towns in the area that share a similar architecture and the UNESCO designation. My dream is to drive around them. #FlyAwayFriday #TPThursday

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  9. It doesn’t matter where anyone photographs Italy, it’s just ALWAYS SO CHARMING! Love love all your photos! Noto sounds like such a fun little town! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this week!

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  10. Aww I’ve never heard of Noto!! It looks soooo gorgeous!! I just love Italy, its so beautiful!! Can’t go wrong! Can’t wait to see what you share on FlyAwayFriday this weekend!!

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  11. I love your sense of humour, so much so that my eyes are watering imagining people eating ‘granite’, I presume in tiny pebble form so as not to choke but just enough to settle the stomach, as some bird species do. Of course, I enjoy a ‘granita’ that is well made, especially limone flavour! 😋 Noto looks interesting. Cheers.

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