Criteria for including the towns of the Val di Noto in the WHL

The “Val di Noto” (Noto Valley) is the area with the eight most important towns in south-eastern Sicily among those that were affected in 1693 by the disastrous earthquake and rebuilt during the 18th century in late Baroque style. These towns are: Catania, Militello in Val di Catania, Caltagirone, Ragusa, Modica, Scicli, Palazzolo Acreide and Noto. They were inscribed in the WHL at the Budapest Conference of 24-29 June 2002, according to the following criteria:

  • this group of towns in south-eastern Sicily provides outstanding testimony to the exuberant genius of late Baroque art and architecture;
  • the towns of the Val di Noto represent the culmination and final flowering of Baroque art in Europe;
  • the exceptional quality of the late Baroque art and architecture in the Val di Noto lies in its geographical and chronological homogeneity, and is the result of the 1693 earthquake in this region;
  • the eight Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto in south-eastern Sicily are characteristic of the settlement pattern and urban form of this region, and are permanently at risk from earthquakes and the eruptions of Mount Etna.

In the Val di Noto the innovative drive of this cultural and artistic period came from the need to rebuild entire urban areas affected by the earthquake of 1693.
Homogeneous criteria were implemented in terms of diversity; some towns were rebuilt on their original site; others were moved to different places.
The towns chose their own architects, sculptors and painters and preferred local workers.  This led to the birth of a varied and diversified Baroque art. The commitment of the religious orders to educate the new generations of artists and architects in the cultural and artistic knowledge of Baroque Rome was crucial. It allowed the new workers to combine technical knowledge from local culture with the monumental dynamics of Roman Baroque.

A city in colour

Some prestigious works

The interior and its masterpieces

Fontana della Ninfa Zizza, public water in the town

The senses tell the Mother Church of San Nicolò and of the Santissimo Salvatore

A design by Vincenzo Sinatra

From St. Thomas to St. Joseph

The Staircase of Angels

A museum to save a tradition

The Barresi-Branciforte lords

Some masterpieces

San Nicolò l’Arena: an unfinished church

The senses tell about Palazzo Nicolaci

A miniature city

The role of the religious orders in rebuilding the Val di Noto

Garden of Novices and the restorations by Giancarlo De Carlo

A new palace for the La Rocca lords

A prominent church

The colours of the cathedral

The chocolate of Modica

The senses tell about Palazzo La Rocca

The Baroque town by the sea

A hall for the feasts

The senses tell the story of the staircase of Santa Maria del Monte

St. Agatha and the giant candelabras

Limestone, the colour of harmony

Wonderful quick decorations

A symbol for the town

Prominent façade

The senses tell the story of the Church of San Sebastiano

The senses tell the story of the Badia di Sant’Agata

The senses tell about Palazzo Napolino Tommasi Rosso

From International Gothic to present day

The senses tell the story of the Church of Santa Chiara

The city of museums

A new site for a new city

The façade used as a puppet theatre

Freedom of worship and the role of the Catholic Church in the diffusion of Baroque

The cathedral of Sant’Agata: a lengthy reconstruction

The senses tell the story of the church of Santa Maria del Carmelo

A small room with a golden entrance

The theatre of taste

Modica, a city with ancient origins

A majestic and luminous church

One city, two sites

A talking palace

The Supernatural dimension of the chapel of the Santissimo Sacramento

A Nobel Prize in Modica

The wall comes to life

Church of San Giuliano (St. Julian) on Via dei Crociferi: reconstruction

Discovering the mother church

A half-Baroque church

Between white and black

Feasting in Palazzolo

A square as the heart of the city

The senses tell the story of the church of San Giuseppe

Baroque and the loss of equilibrium in the 16th century

A long reconstruction

The Benedictine Monastery, one of the largest in Europe

The church of Carmine

A new site for a new church

The senses tell the story of the Church of Santa Chiara

The senses tell the story of the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista

New roads for Catania

Rosario Gagliardi, the maestro of the Val di Noto

A colourful floor

The senses tell the story of the church of San Giovanni Battista

The senses tell the Cathedral of Sant’Agata

Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata, who is the architect?

Many owners, one palace

The kitchen, a treasure chest of colours

St. Sebastian, so much work!

The internal colours

A triumph of colour

The Feast of San Giacomo (St. James)

The Infiorata, a feast of colours and flowers

The Maiolica of the staircase

A feast only for Scicli

A new entrance for Santa Chiara (St. Claire)

The two churches

The disastrous earthquake

The senses tell the story of the Church of San Giuliano ai Crociferi

The Burgos crucifix

The character of Badia Sant’Agata

Militello, the story of an enlightened fiefdom

Norman apses

One city, three sites

The senses tell the Benedictine Monastery and San NicoIò l’Arena

Places of knowledge: the Benedictines’ library

The senses tell the story of the Church of the Annunciation

Searching for colour

Two illustrious patron saints

The senses tell the story of the Church of San Benedetto

Corbels: a celebration of the Nicolaci family

San Benedetto: a treasure reopened to the public

Feast days

From the contrast of the exterior to the internal jubilation of colours

An eagle-shaped city

Connections with other UNESCO sites