Sicily is Italy’s largest region and has a fantastic year-round climate making it one of the best places in Europe to visit throughout the year. There’s plenty to do for all of the family from hiking or skiing on Mount Etna, wine tasting, soaking up the Sicilian sun and visiting the many archaeological sites and ruins. As with most vacations to Italy food plays a big part in your time in Sicily and there are some great simple, authentic places to eat as well as Michelin star restaurants. Sicily’s history spans across 3000 years and its rich culture showcase the influences of all nations that have passed through and left their mark including the Greeks, Romans, Normans, Arabs and Phoenicians and the impact these civilizations have had on the island can be seen everywhere you look.
The Val di Noto in the south-eastern third of Sicily, is the huge unspoiled and sunny area of Noto built in the late Sicilian Baroque style. In 2002, UNESCO added the nine towns of the Val di Noto onto the World Heritage List as "representing the culmination and final flowering of Baroque art in Europe". The listed towns are Caltagirone, Militello in Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa, and Scicli. This region still feels distinctly old world and untouched by time, an area that has everything you could wish for from a memorable vacation including art, culture, excellent food and wine, ancient olive and carob trees, hilltop cities and beautiful sandy and pristine Blue Flag beaches.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site Noto is regarded as the capital of Baroque style ‘the stone garden city’ and is Sicily’s hidden gem. Known as an extraordinary open-air museum where every building, every street, every sight, every view is a work of art made to be slowly savored and whose essence is gradually inhaled as you explore the city.
Designed as a theatrical set, Noto was rebuilt following the 1693 earthquake which destroyed the old city 5 miles away. The famous celebration of the marvel of Spring Infiorata di Noto is one of Sicily’s most celebrated and colorful festivals and takes place every May.
Today this spectacular Baroque setting is home to one of Sicily’s most striking historic centers where time seems to have stood still. Magnificent limestone buildings line the streets, intermingled with Baroque churches, thrilling palazzi and monuments. It’s here in the center where you’ll find Q92 Noto Hotel sitting, pride of place, on Corso Vittorio Emanuele an elegant walkway flanked with restaurants, shops and cafés where the locals and discerning visitors enjoy the typical Italian "walk" with a gelato. This theatre set is beautiful at any time of the day, but is particularly enticing at sunset, when the limestone buildings glow from the hues of the setting sun.
The main road Corso Vittoro Emanuele is home to Q92 Noto Hotel and runs through to Noto’s main square “Piazza Municipio” featuring Noto Cathedral and the town hall which features an impressive hall of mirrors – the “Sala degli Specchi” with 19th-century frescoes, it’s free to enter and worth a visit. Noto is a small town with no less than 35 churches. For the best view over Noto's honey-colored limestone monuments is the bell tower of the church Chiesa di San Carlo. Earling in the morning is the best time to go to catch the light for beautiful photos. To best enjoy Noto and to soak up the atmosphere of Sicily’ hidden gem we recommend you simply wander around and admire the marvel of this little town and it’s beautiful buildings and pretty balconies, we think you’ll agree it’s an awe-inspiring outdoor theatre.
Even if you’re interested in culture you may just prefer to enjoy Noto Italian style and simply enjoy La Dolce Vita (the good life). Enjoy a relaxed day at the beach before heading back to Q92 Noto Hotel to shower and dress ready for the Italian passeggiata (leisurely walk or stroll) when families take to the streets in style to socialize, chat and meet up with friends. There’s no age limit to this Italian tradition which allows you to really take part in Italian life and live like a local. The passeggiata usually takes place early evening whilst dipping in and out of shops, enjoying a glass of Prosecco or Campari and soda at a nearby café or nibbling on a slice of matured prosciutto with a glass of wine at an Enoteca. Shops and boutiques are open until late giving you plenty of time to try on a bracelet, shirt or swimming costume and think about it while enjoying a sunset cocktail. Kids stroll along with a gelato in hand without a care in the world and locals take part in lively conversations, gesticulating on corners of the street whilst the church bells clash in the background: everywhere on the streets is the energy of life being lived, where the purpose of life is to live it. On balmy evenings the stroll continues after dinner which might be a wood-fired pizza, a simple plate of pasta or a sophisticated dinner, or an exciting shopping time, Noto is lucky enough to have all types of Italian leisure activities. The long summer days and Sicilian culture and way of life gives you exhilarating, enthralling days of happiness and contentment.
Within 15 kilometres of the heart of Noto there are some of the most beautiful sandy beaches you’ll find, not only in Sicily but in the whole of Italy. Eloro-Pizzuta and Noto Marina are the closest and easily reachable. However, our favourite beaches are those that could be mistaken for the Caribbean which include San Lorenzo, just a hop and skip from famous Marzamemi or those found in the Vendicari nature reserve which are totally unspoilt and unique. The Marianelli beach is an absolute must and it’s less than 10km from Q92 Noto Hotel. It’s also within Vendicari and attracts naturists and gay travellers.
The famous area of Val di Noto, is a large area dominated by the capital of Baroque. It’s located in South-Eastern Sicily lapped by the waves of the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas and characterised by the most important cities of the provinces of Syracuse and Ragusa, most of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With a temperate year-round climate Sicily, and in particular the Val di Noto, is a dream for all seasons for all ages where la dolce vita reigns: from gastronomy, enology and numerous cultural events, to architectural and archaeological sites, religious celebrations and beaches known to be among the most beautiful in the Mediterranean.
Within an hour from Noto it’s easy to reach fascinating cities rich in history and cultural such as Syracuse, Modica, Scicli or Ragusa as well as a large number of ancient Greek ruins, pristine beaches and areas of outstanding natural beauty. The ancient historic centre of Syracuse, Ortigia, is just a 30-minute drive along the highway.
Val di Noto, an expansive, unspoilt area of Sicily, with Noto as the focal point, is a magical mix of art, culture, excellent food and wine, countryside filled with ancient olive and almond trees, and moments of relaxation on some of the prettiest beaches in Italy. An experience you’ll never forget.