Well, on to Noto :) This small town is famous for its Baroque architecture, so common throughout the Noto Valley. In addition to the architectural gems of the day, we went to a typical fishing village and to the very edge of Sicily.
As soon as we checked into the apartment, we asked the hostess to show us the gems of the area. She, without hesitation, immediately pointed to Noto and the towns on the southern edge of the island. We have heard and read about Noto, but no more about places like Marzamemi or Pachino and their surroundings. However, we decided to go to the prettiest places pointed out by a native Sicilian :)
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The south of Sicily abounds in typically baroque towns, with beautiful historic old towns. They are clustered in the Noto Valley, which is, incidentally, listed by Unesco. The most important and beautiful towns are Noto, Modica and Ragusa. Well, let’s take Noto for the first fire :)
Once we arrived in Noto, the frantic search for parking spaces began. We drove the car along tight urban, climbing streets, where passing two cars is out of the question…. At least along the way we passed Baroque townhouses having nice views as a result ;) After driving up and down the city several times, we finally “snagged” something, although we still had doubts about whether we could stand here.
Fortunately, an Italian policeman answered “Si, si” to our sign efforts with total ignorance, so he gave us the green light to stop. And then we began to wonder if there was anything left to see after driving all over the city ;) We decided to find out.
Sightseeing in Noto
We parked the car near the viewpoint (finally some mirador!). We didn’t come to the wrong place, because it turned out that this is where Corso Vittorio Emanuele begins, which is the most important, most beautiful and in general the most, most, most, most street in Noto (it is called the most beautiful street in all of Sicily).
After a short walk along a tree-lined promenade (finally some greenery in Sicily), we arrived at the Porta Reale – the Royal Gate, from where the prettiest part of the street begins.
The truth was that we were already very hungry, so however, we focused much of our attention on the stores and restaurants and what? Closed, of course. At first we followed the guidebook, but when we once again kissed the handle, we started looking for anything. Literally.
And so we almost walked the entire representative part of the street, and only at the end did we manage to buy something relatively warm. All in all, we got a good deal on it, because we finally tried Arancini, which are Sicilian stuffed rice balls. Such cloggers, quite good and cheap, although perhaps a little too fatty (fortunately, there are also vegetarian versions with cheese, spinach).
After this small dose of energy, we headed back, this time high up, so that we could fully admire the famous Baroque facades. Unfortunately, we were also forced to admire the off-limits doors and windows, as most places were off-limits to tourists. Even when we returned at a later time, the doors of the cathedral(Basilica Minore di San Nicolò) were still closed.
The highlight of Noto is the aforementioned Cathedral, reached by a distinctive staircase, a must-see point for any Noto photo. Of interest – the dome of the cathedral collapsed, and it was not handed over in its current form until June 2007.
Opposite is a square – Piazza Municipio with the most beautiful buildings, including the Palazzo Ducezio, where the city government now holds office. Other buildings worth seeing include. Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata, Chiesa del Santissimo Salvatore, Chiesa di Santa Chiara or Chiesa di San Carlo al Corso (the latter two are churches with viewpoints). Generally, the street is lined with churches, almost one on top of the other.
The town is very nice, well-kept, but completely empty. We could count the tourists on the fingers of one hand. There were more Italians, and most when our Bambina demanded a drink :)
Ok, maybe it’s a matter of the season (January/February), maybe the time of day, but still there was no indication that anything would be open at a later hour. Nothing, we saw a lot, so we decided to go on. Well, bye bye Noto.
We drove the car along the east coast, stopping at recommended beaches. Of course, we didn’t have our bathing suits with us, but the prospect of going down to the beach and getting our feet wet in the Ionian Sea was appealing to us anyway. The first opportunity was to come in the tiny town of Calabernardo. It had, because it was afraid to go out on the sand ;) Generally messy, dirty, cold…. uninteresting. Is it again a matter of “season”?
The next point was the beach at Lido di Noto. Here it was already a little more interesting. There was sand, a little cleaner, you can try swimming. Of course, there was no one but us :) Anyway, we were not there for a long time either ;)
It was poor. The beaches disappointed us, the fishing villages too. Zero living soul, open restaurant, I don’t think I need to mention the changing toilets? Fortunately, there is something that has saved the honor of this part of Sicily (leaving out Noto, of course). We are talking about the tiny town of Marzamemi.
We went there a little reluctantly, a little by the way. Because if we’ve already ventured this far, and we still have time, what’s the harm? And it was a hit!
It is a very atmospheric, charming place, completely distinctive from other cities in Sicily. Low-rise buildings, nice, well-kept houses, a modest little church, and above all, those colors, accessories and decorations.
We felt a bit like we were in a fairy tale, in another world. The walls of the houses are decorated with pots, and the doors are painted in striking cobalt and azure hues.
Thepiazza (Piazza Regina Margherita) is also distinctive, with colorful tables and chairs just waiting for you to sit down, have a cup of coffee and enjoy the peace and quiet that prevails here :) Here, the time of year has worked in its favor. We know that during the season it can be very crowded and noisy.
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Since there was still a while left until sunset we moved on. We drove to Portopalo di Capo Passero. It was not the town itself that was our destination, but the small island of Isola di Capo Passero. Previously a peninsula, it is now an island with a defensive fortress, although perhaps more people come here because of the beach.
On the way back we drove through Pachino, which we would also like to mention. Why? Because we particularly remembered the layout of the streets: tight, perpendicular and one-way streets. The geometric layout of the streets, can be a bit reminiscent of Barcelona in miniature – the building areas are significantly smaller, and the streets are narrower as well (leaving aside the issue of the architecture itself, of course). It was fun going uphill, giving way every now and then.
What else is Pachino famous for? Of tomatoes, those cherry ones (Pachino IGP) :) In general, the whole region is dotted with plastic tunnels where tomatoes ripen.
We saw all these places at ease in one day. Although it was an active day, it was used to the maximum. We saw beautiful, baroque Noto, charming and surprising Marzamemi, and less beautiful and less charming beaches. Maybe they look more interesting in season and encourage swimming? Maybe one day we’ll find out :)
In the meantime, we encourage you to read our practical summary and all the posts about Sicily.