The route in the Val di Noto is a journey to discover some of the cities in eastern Sicily rebuilt after the tragic earthquake of 1693.
New cities, new churches and new stately palaces were rebuilt.
The cities were designed rationally, and the careful and well-thought-out street layout made up of roads that intersected at right angles was one of the characteristic elements of the reconstruction. This element can be found not only in the cities of the Val di Noto, but in other UNESCO heritage cities, such as Agrigento and Palermo.
The latter has an additional link to Catania: both cities one century later saw the construction of the Quattro Canti, a large and scenic square created from the intersection of two streets at a right angle.
But the link between the Sicilian UNESCO sites does not end here.
The wonderful archaeological site of Piazza Armerina shows a great variety and wealth of materials, a sign that the inhabitant of the Roman villa must have been a prominent figure. This need to express social status through one’s residence was not only typical of the 4th century but also of the 18th century, as seen by Palazzo Tommasi-Rosso and Palazzo Nicolaci.
In this analysis, which aims to link the UNESCO sites together, we must stress the role played by religious orders.
In every city they built splendid cathedrals, churches and monasteries, like those of the Benedictines in Catania and the Aeolian Islands.
These are joined by traditional religious feasts, which hold a special place in the hearts of Sicilians. Long celebrations are dedicated, to name but a few, to St. Agatha in Catania, St. Lucy in Syracuse and St. Rosalia in Palermo.