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.

The senses tell the story of the Church of Santa Chiara

The senses tell the story of the Church of the Annunciation

The Barresi-Branciforte lords

Between white and black

Norman apses

The cathedral of Sant’Agata: a lengthy reconstruction

The wall comes to life

A new palace for the La Rocca lords

The Supernatural dimension of the chapel of the Santissimo Sacramento

A feast only for Scicli

A hall for the feasts

Modica, a city with ancient origins

A long reconstruction

Corbels: a celebration of the Nicolaci family

A half-Baroque church

The Staircase of Angels

St. Sebastian, so much work!

The colours of the cathedral

Limestone, the colour of harmony

Connections with other UNESCO sites

The façade used as a puppet theatre

A new site for a new city

From St. Thomas to St. Joseph

Fontana della Ninfa Zizza, public water in the town

The internal colours

The senses tell about Palazzo Nicolaci

The two churches

The senses tell the story of the Church of San Sebastiano

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

Searching for colour

San Benedetto: a treasure reopened to the public

The theatre of taste

The Burgos crucifix

Rosario Gagliardi, the maestro of the Val di Noto

A square as the heart of the city

The senses tell about Palazzo La Rocca

A new entrance for Santa Chiara (St. Claire)

Feasting in Palazzolo

A museum to save a tradition

The city of museums

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

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

The character of Badia Sant’Agata

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

A prominent church

Baroque and the loss of equilibrium in the 16th century

From International Gothic to present day

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

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

A city in colour

The senses tell the story of the Church of Santa Chiara

The Maiolica of the staircase

A miniature city

The kitchen, a treasure chest of colours

The senses tell the Cathedral of Sant’Agata

A symbol for the town

Many owners, one palace

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

The Baroque town by the sea

A majestic and luminous church

A talking palace

The Infiorata, a feast of colours and flowers

A colourful floor

Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata, who is the architect?

Some masterpieces

Places of knowledge: the Benedictines’ library

One city, three sites

The senses tell about Palazzo Napolino Tommasi Rosso

Discovering the mother church

Two illustrious patron saints

The interior and its masterpieces

Militello, the story of an enlightened fiefdom

The disastrous earthquake

The church of Carmine

New roads for Catania

Garden of Novices and the restorations by Giancarlo De Carlo

Some prestigious works

Prominent façade

The senses tell the story of the Church of San Benedetto

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

Feast days

San Nicolò l’Arena: an unfinished church

Wonderful quick decorations

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

A Nobel Prize in Modica

The chocolate of Modica

A design by Vincenzo Sinatra

A new site for a new church

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

St. Agatha and the giant candelabras

The Feast of San Giacomo (St. James)

A small room with a golden entrance

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

The senses tell the story of the church of San Giuseppe

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

An eagle-shaped city

A triumph of colour

One city, two sites

The Benedictine Monastery, one of the largest in Europe