In a report about the earthquake of 11 January 1693 the Bishop of Syracuse described a dramatic sight: “The sun obscured, the air, blackened and turbid, like the dark and bleeding clouds, and the dense dust from the buildings that was exhaled after the structures fell.”
According to the chroniclers, the atmosphere seemed suspended in a seemingly endless succession of earthquake tremors. The catastrophe took place in the early afternoon of the 11th of January and left an indelible scar in the memory of the Sicilian land.
The inhabitants of the Val di Noto ran to different shelters according to their social status: the rich fled to their properties outside the walls, the poor made for the woods or makeshift shelters such as huts and haystacks.
The clergy had to abandon their convents to the point of breaking centuries-old rules, such as seclusion, creating the image of a society broken apart by dramatic circumstances.