Thursday, August 02, 2007

Noto, Sicily

Sicilians have a different sense of humor. It is reflected in their way they live, in their architecture. I have read about Noto before I went there, I went to Sicily chiefly to visit Noto. What's so special about Noto? I was in Sicily on a baroque Odyssey and Noto is the most baroque of all. After visiting Leece, a little town in the Puglia region of Southern Italy, I fell in love with baroque architecture. Sicily is cramped with all things baroque, thanks to a big earthquake in 1693, at the height of the baroque movement, all the cities affected were rebuilt in the baroque style. So if one wants to see baroque, Sicily is the place, eastern Sicily mostly. Frances Mayes , in her book, 'Bella Tuscany' took a little trip to Sicily and wrote about Noto, 'it out baroque all baroque'. We went to Noto as a day trip from Siracusa, another very delightful town, again with a very baroque part, Ortigia island. You must go and see for yourself, 2 weeks wasn't enough. I'm returning this October. Not,unlike the other town is built on a grid, it is currently being cleaned up, it is a Unesco world heritage site. They are currently cleaning and restoring everything, it is not a big city, the historical part. The train drops you off at the new part of town and you walk to the 'Centro Storico". It is a very delightful town especially on Via Villadorata where Palazzo Villadorata is. Palazzo Villadorata is famous for its whimsical balconies. The balconies are supported by carvings of lions, horses, gargoyles and bare breasted ladies. I'm reading from Sir Anthony Blunt's book, 'Sicilian Baroque', he mentioned everything except the bare breasted ladies. It is the bare breasted ladies that are the standouts when you walk on Palazzo Villadorata. The Duomo is beautiful but it was closed for renovation. We had the most delightful lunch at a little tratoria across from the duomo, it was recommended by 'Lets Go'. The name was 'Buca'. The antipasti was really, so was the pasta and the grilled sausage. We had a gelato while we strolled the streets of Noto and got kinks in our necks from staring up at baroque balconies.

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