Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto

Wednesday, 11 February 2015 - 01:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  4 minutes

Catania - Cathedral Sant' Agata © Berthold Werner/cc-by-sa-3.0

Catania – Cathedral Sant’ Agata © Berthold Werner/cc-by-sa-3.0

Val di Noto is a geographical area of south east Sicily; it is dominated by the limestone Iblean plateau. The Val di Noto owes its fame to the reconstruction which underwent after the year 1693, when the entire area was decimated by an enormous earthquake. Following the earthquake, many towns were rebuilt on entirely new sites, such as Noto and Grammichele. The rulers of the time, the kings of Spain, accounted the nobleman Giuseppe Lanza with special powers, which allowed him to redesign the damaged towns based on rational and scenographic town plans.

In fact, since the beginning of the Renaissance, architects had the dream to build an entirely new ideal city, where town planning follows rational design and streets and buildings are organized by functionality and beauty. However, only a very small part of their projects were really used, and most of them were limited to the reorganization of a street, like the Strada Nuova in Florence or the redesign of small villages, like the town of Pienza.

Noto - Via Nicolaci © Urban/cc-by-sa-3.0 Militello in Val di Catania - Santa Maria della Stella © Gmelfi Noto - San Domenico © Urban/cc-by-sa-3.0 Catania - Basilica Collegiata © Berthold Werner/cc-by-sa-3.0 Catania - Cathedral Sant' Agata © Berthold Werner/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Militello in Val di Catania - Santa Maria della Stella © Gmelfi
The earthquake gave the architects the chance to carry out those plans on a large scale. These new towns and cities were therefore redesigned according to renaissance and baroque town planning, with streets crossing each other either in a right angle or starting from major urban sites like squares with a radial pattern. Major buildings like churches, cloisters and palaces were built in order to give the streets a focal point and a majestic perspective. Many of these towns had a distinct shape, like the town of Grammichele which is based on a hexagon whose centre is the town square, consisting of the parish and town hall. Another feature is the homogeneous structure of these towns, as the late baroque style developed in Sicily was extensively used in the rebuilding. The area’s towns were rebuilt in what came to be known as the Sicilian Baroque style; most notable the town of Noto itself, which is now a tourist attraction on account of its fine Baroque architecture.

In June 2002, UNESCO inscribed eight old towns of the Val di Noto on the World Heritage List as “representing the culmination and final flowering of Baroque art in Europe”. The listed towns are Caltagirone, Militello in Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa, and Scicli.

Read more on unesco.org – Val di Noto, italia.it – Val di Noto, ValDiNoto.com and Wikipedia Val di Noto (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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