Noto is a city and comune in the Province of Syracuse, Sicily (Italy). Its located 32 km southwest of the city of Syracuse at the foot of the Iblean Mountains and gives its name to the surrounding valley, Val di Noto. In 2002 Noto and its church were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Noto is famous for its fine buildings of the early 18th century, considered among the main masterpieces in the Sicilian baroque style. It is a place of many religious buildings, there are several palaces, and many others. The old has mixed with the new, and a view from the top of a building on the hill will show the older buildings mixed with new and rebuilt architecture.
Palaces and other Buildings:
- Ducezio Palace, the current Town Hall. Designed by Vincenzo Sinatra, it houses neo-classical style frescoes by Antonio Mazza.
- Astuto Palace.
- Villadorata palace on Via Nicolaci which was built by P. Labisi in 1733.
The remains of Noto's early inhabitants are almost entirely hidden beneath the ruins of the mediaeval town, except for three chambers cut into the rock. One is noted by an inscription in the library at Noto to have belonged to the gymnasium, while the other two were heroa (shrines of heroes). But explorations have brought to light four cemeteries of the third Sicel period, and one of the Greek period, of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. There are also catacombs of the Christian period and some Byzantine tombs.
Four miles to the south of Noto, on the left bank of the Tellaro (Helorus) stands a stone column about 10 metres high, which is believed to be a memorial of the surrender of Nicias. In the 3rd century BC, a tomb was excavated in the rectangular area which surrounds it, destroying apparently a pre-existing tomb. The later burial belongs to the necropolis of the small town of Heloron, 750 m to the southeast, some remains of which have been discovered. It was a small advanced post of Syracuse, belonging probably to the 6th century BC.