Final Noto glimpses

After the excitement of the magnet shop there was just time to grab a bite to eat and then a final whirl through the honey coloured stone streets.

We final spot one of the traditional Sicilian carts but sadly it is not one of the most ornate examples!


A simple yet effective church door catches my eye while on the hunt for the loo . .


Then it’s off to take a quick peek around Noto’s Cathedral. (And yes, I did a Rocky style sprint up the steps while humming the theme tune. . . . )


The cathedral’s construction began in the early 18th century and was completed in 1776. It is dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Myra.


The cathedral has had several mishaps and had to be partially rebuilt on a few occasions. The latest being in 1996 when a large part of the cathedral collapsed.

It was only reopened in 2007, 11 years after the collapse and was only reconsecrated in 2011.

The cathedral is fairly sparsely decorated, mainly in white, apart from the colourful frescos in the cupola and pendentives.

Then sadly we have to scarper to catch the bus back to Catania. Noto is a stunning Baroque gem that is well worth a visit.

Ceramic fish shoals

Warning! This post is purely catering to my magnet and ceramic fetish! You have been warned . .

Imagine if you will, my almost rapturous delight, when strolling along Noto’s main street, to come across a shop stuffed to the brim with nothing but pottery, magnets and, even better, CERAMIC SEAFOOD!!

Yeap, you heard right, not only thousands of magnets in every shape and size, but a veritable fishmongers worth of pottery sea creatures.


It’s really not a sight you see every day, so naturally I skulked about taking surreptitious snaps.


Whether you fancy tiny traditional Moorish heads, bunches of chillies and garlic or mini painted plates, you can grab a slice of brightly coloured holiday souvenir here.

But by far the most intriguing display is the incredible spectacle of fishy pottery goodness!


Crabs, sardines, squid, coral, jellyfish . . . if it swims, grows or splashes through the oceans then it is probably depicted here!


The detail on these lifelike delights is incredible. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I would say this was just a normal fish market stall!


Pretty cool eh? Even if you’re not a mega ceramics nerd like me, I am sure you’re still a tiny bit impressed!

Ceilings and eyeballs

As we descend the twisty twirly staircase back down the church bell tower, I can’t resist poking my head through a tiny wooden door with a “do not enter” sign on it (well the door was open . .)

I sneak onto a tiny, dusty balcony covered in old step ladders and painting brushes for a glorious bird’s eye view of the Chiesa di San Carlo al Corso church below.

Here’s unlucky ole St Lucy again with her miraculous regenerating eyeballs!


But the star of the show for me is the beautiful ceiling, the ornate frescos contrasting nicely with the buttermilk yellow.


A few more details of religious icons, pulpit and heavenly visitation.

Then it’s back onto the street for food and magnet hunting!

Head for heights

As we continue our tour of the delightful city of Noto we decide to get a different perspective of the sights.

So we headed up the steep spiral staircase at Chiesa di San Carlo’s bell tower to emerge, blinking into the sunlight for stunning views of the city.


Here’s the Cathedral in all its full glory. We’ll head there later.


Below is the city’s main street, the Corso Vittorio Emanuele where most of the sights can be found within easy walking distance.


But what goes up must come down and here’s the narrow, single person width vertiginous staircase!


I did get wobbly legs at certain points heading back down!!


Next up there is a veritable orgy of magnets and pottery to be had!!!

Baroque Noto

The next stop on our Sicilian tour is Noto a masterpiece of Sicilian Baroque.


In 2002 Noto and its church were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The current town, rebuilt after the earthquake in 1693 was planned on a grid system by Giovanni Battista Landolina.

Its flanks of epic buildings, made of soft tufa stone, lead to it being dubbed the “Stone Garden” by Cesare Brandi


The town is rightly famous for its beautiful 18th century and is considered among the main masterpieces in the Sicilian baroque style.

Above are just some of the impressive buildings to be found including Noto Cathedral.

Above to the right you can see the ornate facade of The church of St. Charles Borromeo.


Intriguing traditional souvenirs can be found including spinning tops,  a traditional mouth harp also known as  Jew’s Harp.

This unusual item is a small instrument held between the teeth and struck with a finger. It can produce only one note, but harmonics are sounded by the player altering the shape of the mouth cavity.


Next up we head to the rooftops to take in a bird’s eye view of this beautiful town.


More markets

Back in Catania we head for one of the colourful local markets. Of course I lead the way, camera in hand, while the man needs a caffeine fortification!

We see some gorgeous, almost sculptural vegetables. We are not too sure what this particular one is, it could be Kohlrabi.


Delicate blush pink artichokes could almost pass as pretty floral bouquets.


Below is some vivid purple cauliflower or Cavolfiore to be all Italian about it.


As well as the mountains of rainbow bright veg there’s the usual collection of nuts and dried fruits.

I love secretly snapping the stall holders as they go about their business! (slightly creepy I know)


All manner of salad leaves are piled high. Below Cestino Di Rucola (roughly translates as basket of arugula – a type of salad rocket)

This stall holder is almost dwarfed by his impressive pumpkin display.


Less tasty are the slimy snails that still writhe and tumble over each other!

Bags of spices, mountains of string beans and meat and cheese.

There’s also non edible things for sale from incense sticks to colourful rugs and garish fake flowers.

More bags of nuts, pumpkins and aubergines so shiny that they look polished.

Fresh fish are carefully displayed on mountains of crushed ice.

Knock off perfumes, plump little mushrooms and more spices.

Rounded off with a few more of the impressive purple cauliflowers.



Ortigia island

We’re heading for Ortigia – Syracuse’s island heart. Packed full of history and architecture.


It may be small but it’s crammed with over 2,500 years of history.

As we head to Ortigia we pass The Fountain of Diana by Giulio Moschetti

At Diana’s feet, Alpheus looks on as his love interest Arethusa turns into a fountain after she asks for help to escape him.

She disappears into the ground and escapes to the island of Ortigia. Later we’ll see the spring where she emerged.


Architectural styles in Ortigia encompass Greek and Roman remains, Mediaeval Norman buildings and Baroque too.


As well as the old, you can also get some modern quirky sights too!

Here’s another depiction of the symbol of Sicily – the trinacria. A woman’s head surrounded by three legs and wheat.


We’re heading to the architectural centre of Ortigia first – the Piazza del Duomo.


The Piazza is home to a stunning Cathedral built on the site of an ancient Temple of Athena.

You can still see the original Doric columns that were incorporated into the building’s main structure.


The almost clinically clean buildings and blinding sunshine makes it seem like a theatre set.


Carved decorative stonework can be found everywhere you look.


Below is one of many statues to be found of St Lucy. A young woman who meet with a grisly end (as saints tend to do)

She was denounced as a Christian and was stabbed in the throat by a dagger.

Local tradition sometimes also mentions that Lucy removed her eyes when complimented her for their beauty while a brand new set of eyes were miraculously restored to her thanks to her faith.

Postcards show another homage to St Lucy.



More details of the interior.

Below is the Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia.

This is currently the home of one of Siracusa’s most prized works of art – The Burial of Santa Lucia by Caravaggio

Below is Fonte Aretusa – Siracusa’s most famous mythological site.

The tale goes that the nymph Arethusa, was bathing in the Alpheus River when the god of the river took a liking to her.

She begged to escape and Artemis, in pity ,turned the nymph into a spring, allowing her to escape underground.

She travelled under the sea to emerge here, in Siracusa. Alpheus, though, followed her and mingled his waters with hers for eternity. Romantic eh?


Then it’s off for a quick look at the sea (and enjoy a bit of breeze)


The turquoise water is gorgeous and calming after a hot and stifling tour around the sights.

All in all another whirlwind sightseeing day.