May 5, 2020
Ah, Sicily. Why did I wait so long to visit you? In the short time I visited this gigantic, ancient Isle, I only caught a flavor of what you offer. Before I say farewell to you for now, let’s visit two towns that many people miss when they visit you, Sicily.
The Town of Noto was once called Netum in ancient times. The Romans took over Netum from the Greeks in 263AD. Its mythology states that both Daedalus, the ancient Greek Architect and Father of Icarus in Greek mythology, and Hercules, Son of Zeus and a human woman, visited ancient Netum.
Noto, over the centuries, has been home to Christians, Muslims and the Normans. Their influences and blood lines created those who live in the town today.
Palazzo Ducezio above.
In medieval times, Noto was a fortress. However, in 1693 A.D., a horrific earthquake leveled the medieval structures. Nearly half the population was killed. Those remaining moved the location of the city a bit closer to the sea and chose to re-build in the style of Sicilian Baroque.
On this glorious, sunny day, I entered Noto through the gate above. Step inside with me. The city has a grid pattern, much different from medieval plans with curved, narrow streets. Everywhere are structures of tufa stone that appears to be honey colored in the sunlight.
Below is a side view of the local civic museum—stunning arches and minute detail even on the side of the building.
I saw so many churches that I am getting them confused.
Palazzo Ducezio (above) is across the street from the Cattedrale.
It’s a long walk up to the Cattedrale.
All over the main street we find the Baroque style made of the sunny colors of the Tufa stone.
The integral designs and miniscule stories are told by the architecture.
The churches are everywhere. Enter this one with me.
Detailed arches and altars.
What is this at the entrance of another church?
Look at the intricate ceiling as well as the screen above.
Is this from Raiders of the Lost Ark? Sorry, just kidding.
This particular arched altar touched my soul.
The Baroque style above is combined with Arabic flair. This, alone, to me, is worth the visit to Noto.
The opera house above once again shines with Sicilian Baroque. We did not go inside the Opera house. I will do that next time I visit, and I hope you will too.
Nearly every town in Italy has a memorial to lost soldiers during the World Wars. This one below I found particularly moving. What do you think?
It is no wonder that Noto is one of the Unesco’s World Heritage sites. Many bus tours will stop here. If you have a car you can find parking and tour it yourself. Also, they also have an Infiorata each summer. It will be packed.
( The men above are checking out the plan for the Infiorata 2020.)
Noto is a worthwhile stop on the way to the beach. For a hilltop village experience, let’s go to Buccheri.
My friends, Linda and Bruno, have a summer escape in the hilltop town of Buccheri. Approximately 2000 people live in Buccheri, in the province of Siracusa, 820 meters above sea level.
When we drove into town, Bruno rolled down his window as we approached this lovely, family-oriented piazza. I think nearly everyone in town knows Bruno and Linda. It was a warm day in February and, as you can see above, families were out enjoying the sun. Old friends and neighbors were chatting. It felt like someone’s living room.
Buccheri originated in ancient times and, over the centuries, has been controlled by Romans, Arabs and Norman people. It had once been on a trading route and thus became a trader’s gathering place. The horrific Earthquake of 1693 changed life as the natives had known it just as it did in Noto. Whereas Noto chose to move their city, and design their Centro Storico in the Sicilian Baroque style, Buccheri retained its medieval center. We rambled along curved streets,
On cobblestone streets and under archways.
Newer homes are built adjacent to medieval structures up and down the hillside.
Air conditioning units attached to ancient walls somewhat jars the feeling of ages. Yet as we travel these streets we can imagine those people from hundreds of years ago, wandering along these little alleyways, walking on cobblestone on their ways to the fields or on their way home.
The Chiesa della Santa Maria Maddalena, The Church of St. Mary Magdalene,
Is another masterpiece of architecture. Construction was completed in the 18th Century, complete with go for broke Baroque details.
Granted it could use a good exterior cleaning. Still the staining accentuates the bas relief, exterior carvings.
Unfortunately, the church was locked when we visited. It is just another reason for us to return here to this quaint village in the mountains.
But before leaving Buccheri, we planned to enjoy our pranzo, our main meal of the day. The church was very near a famous place to eat. We knew we had no reservations and probably could not have our meal there.
It is the famous Osteria U Locale, owned by friends of Linda and Bruno. Sabastiano and Giuseppe Formica, the owners, are famous for natural, seasonal meals of outstanding taste.
Sabastiano considers himself a peasant style chef. And all the peasants from all over the world come to this tiny enclave to taste his meals, enjoy the ambiance of their little osteria while experiencing expert service.
When we arrived, the wait staff were enjoying their meal before the doors opened.
And I had the privilege of meeting Giuseppe, chatting with him about life here and enjoying his warm personality.
Sabastiano was busy in the kitchen. But next time, I WILL have reservations and I hope you are there with me.
Contact information: email@example.com Phone: 0931 873923 Website: www.ulocale.com
We had known it was a long shot to get a table at U Locale. It is not the only excellent place to eat, mangiare.
We chose Da Mimmo, more friends of Linda and Bruno. Mimmo is an artist with food and with paint.
His modern art pieces added an urban vibe to our visit. We were surrounded by his art. And the food was another form of artistic excellence.
After an aperitivo, Linda enjoyed this vegetarian broccoli with olive oil on pasta.
Bruno and I each enjoyed the traditional meat ragu dish above. The homemade pasta was excellent as was the sauce. We all shared the house red wine. Perfetto!
After chatting with the owner and staff, filling our stomachs and hearts with good food like mamma would have made, we said farewell to Da Mimmo. If you would like to visit there, and I urge you to do just that, here is their information.
Da Mimmo Di Randone Graziella Ristorante Pizzaria
Phone: 0931 880024
Facebook: Ristorante Pizzaria Da Mimmo
I will return to Buccheri. Perhaps August in Sicily would be a good deal cooler in this little town in the mountains. You can walk everywhere. There is great food. I will have to look for a hotel with a pool. Who’s with me?
Until we meet again, A dopo!
Ciao for now!
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