Siracusa and NotoSicily Private Excursion (1 day tour)
Siracusa was founded by Greek colonies in 734 B.C.
The city grew at a rapid rate, giving life to a series of internal conflicts and creating the ideal atmosphere for tyranny.
In 485 B.C. Gerone, the first tyrant of Siracusa came to power.
Through his policy of conquests and victories, the importance of Siracusa grew, making the city strong and famous as a ruling power.
In spite of these conquests, however, the Siracusa people rebelled against tyranny and drove out his successor, the tyrant Gerone, and then set up a democracy (466 B.C.).
When the Roman Empire fell in 476 A.D., the city was at the mercy of other populations: in 493 was sacked by the Goths and then in 535 A.D. it was conquered by Belisarius and annexed to the Byzantine Empire.
In 878 the Arabs took over a large part of Eastern Sicily including Siracusa, and the city stayed in their hands for about 2 centuries.
A tremendous earthquake shook the East of Sicily in 1693, including Siracusa and the other cities in the Val di Noto area.
The city was completely rebuilt in the early decades of the eighteenth century and thus became one of the best examples of the Sicilian Baroque style together with the nearby Noto.
Between 1800 and 1900, Siracusa enjoyed a period of economic, urban and cultural expansion, greatly helped by the fact that it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy (1870).
Noto is, quite simply, the apotheosis of Baroque town planning and architecture.
Completely destroyed by the terrible 1693 earthquake, it was rebuilt from scratch on a new site, about 10km from the old centre.
Under the supervision of the Duke of Camastra, the Spanish Viceroy’s right-hand man, three architects, Labisi, Sinatra and Gagliardi, set to work, intent on creating a new town based firmly on Baroque ideals.
The main thoroughfare is Corso Vittorio Emanuele along which many of Noto’s most representative buildings stand.
It begins at the Porta Reale and extends east via three piazzas, each with its own church.
The public gardens are situated along this road (or at least looking on to it) as are the Monastero del Santissimo Salvatore with its graceful tower, the inspired Palazzo Ducrezio, the Cathedral (whose dome collapsed in 1996), the Church of San Francesco, the Jesuit Church and College and Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata.
All these buildings are obviously Baroque in style but each is unique with its own fascinating design.
Near the end of the Corso is Piazza XVI Maggio with its magnificent Church of San Domenico and a magnificent Fountain of Hercules.
A UNESCO Heritage site.
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