The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the cathedral of Syracuse, located in the historical center of the city, on the Ortygia island. The cathedral incorporates parts of a Greek doric temple dedicated to Athena, which was converted into a church with the advent of Christianity. SHORT HISTORY During the 5th century BC, the first tyrant of Syracuse, Gelon, built on this place an imposing Doric temple dedicated to Athena, the ancient Greek goddess associated with wisdom and warfare. With the advent of Christianity, the temple became the first Christian church in western Europe in the 7th century AD. The Byzantines made significant changes to the Christian structure and, later, the Muslims, after their conquest of Syracuse, transformed it into the main place of Islamic worship in the area. The church became a mosque, undergoing the changes that the Islamic cult required. With the Normans, the city rediscovered Christianity and, therefore, the building resumed its main role as a Syracusan Catholic church. The Normans rebuild the church and gave it a majestic but austere facade. During the terrible earthquake of 1693, that razed to the ground several cities in eastern Sicily, including most of Syracuse, Read more [...]
The Cathedral of San Nicolò, dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Myra, is the beautiful Baroque cathedral of Noto, located at the top of a wide staircase, on the northern part of the Piazza del Municipio (Town Hall Square). SHORT HISTORY The construction of the church began in 1694, one year after the terrible earthquake of the Val di Noto, which destroyed entirely the ancient Noto, located about 8 kilometers to the north of the current city. The church was completed in 1703, the year in which it was opened for worship in a solemn ceremony. In the second half of the 18th century, the original unfinished facade of the church, built by Rosario Gagliardi, was remodeled by the architect Vincenzo Sinatra, and completed at the end of the 18th century. In the 19th century, a new dome was built to replace the previous one, deteriorated by the earthquakes from the 18th century, giving the cathedral its current appearance. After the earthquake of December 13, 1990, the church suffered some structural damage, but no restoration measures were taken. On the evening of March 13, 1996, due to a serious defect of the pillars of the central nave, the first of Read more [...]
The Church of San Pietro (Duomo di San Pietro) is a beautiful Baroque church in Modica, dedicated to Saint Peter. SHORT HISTORY A first church was built on this place between 1301 and 1350, but the exact date remains unknown. A document from 1396 signed by the bishop of Syracuse attests its existence. The church was rebuilt starting with 1597 by the will of Pope Clement VIII, and two centuries later, in 1797, by the will of Charles III of Spain, King of Naples and Sicily. Around that time, despite the fact that the city already had a cathedral – the Duomo di San Giorgio, the Church of Saint Peter was declared also a cathedral, becoming the official church of the Counts of Modica. Damaged by the passing of the centuries and the frequent earthquakes in the area, the church was rebuilt several times. However, some parts of it resisted over time, surviving even the earthquake of 1693. One example is the Chapel of Immaculate Conception, which was built in 1620. ART AND ARCHITECTURE A monumental staircase with the statues of the twelve apostles leads to the church. The facade is divided into two orders, and embellished by Read more [...]
The Cathedral of San Giorgio (Duomo di San Giorgio) is the cathedral of Modica, dedicated to Saint George. The church is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of the most prominent examples of the Sicilian Baroque. SHORT HISTORY A first church in Modica dedicated to Saint George was probably built by Roger I of Sicily after the Norman conquest of Sicily, which took place in 1090. The first official document that certifies the presence of the church is a papal bull from 1150, issued by Pope Eugene III. However, the current church is the result of the reconstruction from the 17th century, which took place after the disastrous earthquakes that struck Modica in 1542, in 1613 and, probably the most destructive, in 1693. The structure was designed by the architect Marcello from Palermo, with the laying of the first stone in 1643. The master builder of the church was Carlo D’Amico, also a native of Palermo. The works for the reconstruction of the first order of the facade, which withstood the tremors of the 1693 earthquake, began in 1702 and were completed in 1738. In 1760, the architect Francesco Paolo Labisi from Noto designed the Read more [...]
The Church of San Giorgio, also known as the Duomo di San Giorgio, is a beautiful church in Ragusa Ibla – the ancient center of Ragusa, and one of the most important examples of Baroque architecture in Sicily. SHORT HISTORY Before the earthquake of 1693, the Church of San Giorgio stood in the eastern part of Ragusa Ibla, near the Hyblean Garden. Today, the only thing left from the ancient church, demolished in 1718, is the Portal of San Giorgio. After the earthquake of 1693, which destroyed almost entirely the historical center of the town, it was decided to built a new church dedicated to Saint George on the place of the ancient Church of San Nicola. However, the building of Ragusa Superiore – the modern part of the city, developed faster, and the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, erected in 1694, became the main Catholic church of Ragusa, to the discontent of the inhabitants of Ragusa Ibla. The project of the Church of San Giorgio was commissioned in 1738 to Rosario Gagliardi, an architect of Noto. The first stone was laid on June 28, 1739, as a plaque on the right side of the staircase reminds us, and Read more [...]
The Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista is the main catholic church in Ragusa, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The church is located in the modern part of the town, known as Ragusa Superiore. SHORT HISTORY A church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, which stood on the western part of Ragusa Ibla, the ancient town of Ragusa, was seriously damaged by the earthquake of 1693. One year later, on April 15, 1694, the church was rebuilt in the center of Ragusa Superiore, the new town of Ragusa. On August 16, the same year, the church was opened for worship. The short time in which the church was built indicates that the first building was small and inadequate for the needs of the new expanding city district. Therefore, in 1718, a new larger church was begun, under the direction of two architects from Acireale, Giuseppe Recupero and Giovanni Arcidiacono. The new church was solemnly consecrated on May 31, 1778, a ceremony led by the bishop of Syracuse, Giovanni Battista Alagona. In 1783, the dome was built, and covered on the outside with copper foils at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1848, the paving was renewed with stone Read more [...]
The Cathedral of Palermo is a magnificent church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, located in the historical center of Palermo. Since July 3, 2015, the Cathedral is a UNESCO World heritage site, part of the Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale, a series of nine structures dating from the era of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily. SHORT HISTORY A first church was built in the area in the fourth century. The building is mentioned in a papal bull of Pope Leo the Great in 444 and in a letter to the Sicilian clergy of 447. In 592, the Bishop Vittore demolishes the church and promotes its reconstruction according to the Byzantine canons. A second church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is built on the ruins of the previous one in 604. Between 831 and 1072, during the Arab domination of Palermo, the church was transformed into a mosque. Following the Norman conquest of the city, in 1072, the mosque was converted back to a Christian church. The earthquake of February 4, 1169, seriously damaged the bell tower and the upper part of the facade. Interpreted as a divine punishment Read more [...]
Isola Bella (Isula Bedda, in Sicilian dialect, and Beautiful Island, in English) is a small island located near the beach with the same name, in the Ionian Sea, in Taormina. Sometimes, when the tide is low, Isola Bella connects to the beach through a narrow sandy strip, becoming a peninsula. The beach in front of the island is also beautiful, but is made of pebbles and the sea floor is rocky, making it uncomfortable for some people. The beach is free, but the entrance to the Isola Bella Nature Reserve costs 4 euros. The island can be visited every day, except Monday, starting with 9.00 am. SHORT HISTORY The island was donated in 1806 by Ferdinand I of Bourbon to Pancrazio Ciprioti, Mayor of Taormina. In 1890, it was purchased by Florence Trevelyan, who built a small house on the island. The island was later inherited by the lawyer Cesare Acrosso, the godson adopted by Salvatore Cacciola, husband of Florence Trevelyan. In 1954, Isola Bella was bought for 38,000₤ by the brothers Leone and Emilio Bosurgi, who built a village with 12 autonomous residences and a tiny swimming pool nearby, in order to host their friends. The Bosurgi family Read more [...]
The Cathedral of Sant’Agata is the Cathedral of Catania, dedicated to the martyr Saint Agatha, located in the main square of the city, Piazza del Duomo. SHORT HISTORY The church had a tumultuous history, being repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt after the earthquakes that occurred in the area. A first church was built around 1086 on the ruins of the Achilliane Baths dating back to Roman times. On 4 February 1169, an earthquake completely destroyed the ceiling of the church, killing many people gathered in the Cathedral. In 1194, under the reign of Henry VI, a fire caused considerable damage. In 1693, the earthquake that struck the area destroyed the Cathedral almost completely, leaving only the apse and the facade. The bell tower was also put to the ground. The reconstruction of the church was made in the 18th century. The current building is the work of the architect Girolamo Palazzotto, who is responsible for the interior, while Giovanni Battista Vaccarini designed the facade, which was built between 1734 and 1761. In 1857, the bell tower was completed, and the current layout of the churchyard was built in the 19th century. ARCHITECTURE The facade of the Cathedral, built in Read more [...]
Fontana Pretoria is a spectacular fountain located in the heart of the historic centre of Palermo, in the square with the same name, Piazza Pretoria. The fountain is decorated with sculptures of the Twelve Olympians and other mythological and allegorical figures. SHORT HISTORY The fountain was built in 1554, in Florence, by Francesco Camilliani, for the garden of Don Luigi Alvarez de Toledo. In 1573, driven by his debts and about to move to Naples, Don Luigi sold the fountain to the Palermo Senate. The fountain arrived in Palermo on May 26, 1574, disassembled in 644 pieces, with some sculptures being damaged during transport or retained by the previous owner. Therefore, some adaptations were necessary and some pieces were added. The recomposition of the fountain was made by Camillo Camilliani, son of Francesco, with the help of Michelangelo Naccherino, and Fontana Pretoria was finished in 1581. In the 18th and 19th centuries, due to the nudity of statues, the square was popularly known as Piazza della Vergogna (Square of Shame). In November 1998, a restoration work was undertaken, which lasted until November 2003. In December of the same year, the fountain was reopened. ARCHITECTURE The fountain has a Read more [...]
Villino Gallodoro is a hotel in Taormina, located about 100 meters from the cable car to the historical center of the town and about 600 meters from Isola Bella. The hotel is housed in a recently restored Mediterranean building, surrounded by greenery and with an enchanting view over the Mazzarò Bay and the surrounding coast. The hotel has 15 rooms featuring private bathrooms, TV and air conditioning. Some of the rooms offer a balcony with sea view. HOW TO GET THERE Villino Gallodoro is located about 2.8 kilometers from the Taormina-Giardini railway station.
Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea is a 5-Star hotel in Taormina, located about 350 meters away from Isola Bella, right in front of the cable car to the historical center of the town. The elegant rooms and suites are decorated with refined fabrics and antique furniture. Most rooms come with a sea-view balcony. The restaurant Oliviero serves Sicilian cuisine and fresh seafood on its beautiful terrace with panoramic views of the Bay of Mazzarò. The hotel also features a private beach, an outdoor pool, kids club and wellness facilities. HOW TO GET THERE The Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea is located about 2.5 kilometers from the Taormina-Giardini railway station. A private shuttle service can be arranged to and from the airport or the station. The hotel also organizes a free shuttle service to and from Taormina and free boat cruises along the coast during the summer months.
Grand Hotel San Pietro is a 5-Star hotel in Taormina, located about 15 minutes on foot from the historical center of the town. All the rooms are spacious and have a flat screen TV with satellite channels. The hotel offers free WiFi access and free parking, a 24 hours reception and a well-equipped gym. Grand Hotel San Pietro features an outdoor pool and a sun terrace overlooking the Ionian Sea. A buffet breakfast is offered daily and includes croissants, cold cuts, eggs and hot drinks. The Grand Hotel San Pietro offers both a traditional Sicilian restaurant, and a poolside snack bar. HOW TO GET THERE Grand Hotel San Pietro is located about 3.3 kilometers from the Taormina-Giardini railway station. A free shuttle service is provided to/from Taormina center.
Palazzo Speciale is a bed and breakfast in Catania, located about 300 meters from the beautiful Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata and about 250 meters from the Ursino Castle. The B&B offers accommodations with a patio or a balcony, free WiFi and flat-screen TV, as well as a shared lounge. Some units are air-conditioned and include a seating and/or dining area. Palazzo Speciale offers a continental or buffet breakfast. HOW TO GET THERE Palazzo Speciale is located about 1.5 kilometers from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is right in front of the B&B, in Via Plebiscito 6, on the bus Lines 431N and 503.
Palazzo Marletta is a boutique hotel in Catania, overlooking the beautiful Piazza del Duomo, a few steps from the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. All the rooms are air conditioned and include a desk, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. The hotel offers a plentiful breakfast buffet. HOW TO GET THERE Palazzo Marletta is located about 1.4 kilometers away from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is in Via Vittorio Emanuele 192, about 100 meters away, on the bus Lines 830, 902 and 932.
Habitat is a modern boutique hotel in Catania, located in the historical center of the city, just a few steps from the Bellini Theater. Each room of the hotel features a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. The private bathroom also comes with a hairdryer, free toiletries and towels. The hotel has a garden, and free WiFi is available throughout the property. Other facilities include parking, 24 hours reception, relax lounge and concierge service to book cultural visits and excursions on Mount Etna and around Catania. HOW TO GET THERE Habitat Boutique Hotel is located about 1 kilometer from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is in Via Vittorio Emanuele 102, about 230 meters away, on the bus Lines 429, 431N, 439, 449, 530, 534, 536, 556, 628D, 925, 927 and 932.
The Church of San Nicolò l’Arena is a church in Catania, located in Piazza Dante Alighieri. The church, measuring 105 meters in length, about 71 meters in width in the transept area, with a maximum height of 66 meters at the dome, is the largest in Sicily. The first church erected by the Benedictines in Catania was entitled Sancti Nicolai de Arenis, after the Saint Nicholas of Bari and the red sandstone (rena rossa) of Nicolosi, a town in the province of Catania from which the monks arrived. SHORT HISTORY The grandiose Monastery of San Nicolò l’Arena was founded on November 28, 1558. The church was inaugurated in 1578, in the presence of the viceroy of Sicily Juan de la Cerda. In 1669, the structure was destroyed by the Etna eruption that struck the western side of the city. Starting with 1687, the church was rebuilt further south than the original site, on a project by the Roman architect Giovanni Battista Contini. In 1693, the works were interrupted by the violent earthquake of the Val di Noto, and for the next thirty years the monastery remained without a main church. In 1730, the construction of the church was resumed, Read more [...]
Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini is an opera house in Catania, named after the local-born composer Vincenzo Bellini. The theater is located in the square with the same name, about 350 meters from the Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY The construction of a public theater in Catania was proposed right after the earthquake of the Val di Noto of 1693, which destroyed most of the cities in the area, but a foundation stone was laid only in 1812, over 100 years after the terrible event. In 1870, the architect Andrea Scala was given the task of finding a suitable site to build a new theater, and after examining the various options it was decided for the Piazza Cutelli area. Despite the financial uncertainties, the project was approved, and Scala, with the assistance of the Milanese architect Carlo Sada, carried out the works. In 1880, the company financing the project ended up in liquidation, and was replaced by the Municipality, which decided to make some modifications to the structure of the theater. In 1887, the building was completed, but the inauguration took place only on May 31, 1890, with Norma, an opera by Vincenzo Bellini. Read more [...]
Fontana dell’Amenano is a beautiful fountain in Catania, located in the southern part of Piazza del Duomo, next to the Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici and near the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY The fountain was built in 1867 by the Neapolitan sculptor Tito Angelini. ARCHITECTURE The fountain consists of a large shell in white Carrara marble, in which stands the statue of the river Amenano, represented as a young man. The statue holds a cornucopia from which water flows into a convex basin. On each side of the statue, there is the sculpture of a triton. The shell rests on a base on which is placed the coat of arms of the city. On the opposite side of the fountain, we can find an emblem that contains the year in which the monument was inaugurated. From the basin of the fountain, the water pours into the underground river Amenano, located about two meters below the square level. Behind the fountain, a lava stone staircase leads to the Pescheria, the ancient city market of Catania. HOW TO GET THERE Fontana dell’Amenano is located about 1.4 kilometers from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is Read more [...]
Piazza del Duomo is the main square of Catania, located at the intersection of three important boulevards – Via Etnea, the historical axis of the city, Via Giuseppe Garibaldi and Via Vittorio Emanuele II. ARCHITECTURE On the eastern side of the square, stands the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, Duomo di Catania, from which the square takes its name. The Cathedral was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693, and was rebuilt in the 18th century by the architect Girolamo Palazzotto, with the facade designed by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. In 1857, the bell tower of the Cathedral was completed, and the current layout of the churchyard appeared in the 19th century. To the south of the square, there is the Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici, a Baroque palace rebuilt after the earthquake of the Val di Noto, in the first decades of the 18th century by the architect Alonzo di Benedetto, and subsequently enlarged in 1757 by Francesco Battaglia. Between the Palace of the Seminary of the Clerics and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, there is the Porta Uzeda, which connects the two buildings mentioned above, beeing also the southern entrance to the square. The Uzeda Gate was named after the Spanish viceroy Read more [...]
Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici (Palace of the Seminary of the Clerics) is a Baroque palace in Catania, located across the Piazza Duomo from the Palazzo degli Elefanti, near the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY During the Aragonese period, on the site of the present palace, there was the ancient structure of the Bishop’s Palace. In 1572, the archbishop Antonio Faraone founded the seminary of the clerics, and some rooms of the palace were reserved for this institution. Beginning with 1614, Bonaventura Secusio, Bishop of Catania between 1609 and 1618, established the seminary headquarters in the building. On May 29, 1647, during the anti-Spanish revolt of Catania, the palace was severely damaged. In 1693, the building was completely destroyed by the earthquake of the Val di Noto. In the first decades of the 18th century, the palace was rebuilt by the architect Alonzo di Benedetto, and subsequently enlarged in 1757 by Francesco Battaglia. In 1866, the architect Mario Di Stefano further expanded the structure, by building the second floor. Beginning with 1943, due to the Second World War, the seminarians left the building, which was later damaged by bombing. In 1944, the palace was acquired by the Municipality of Read more [...]
Palazzo degli Elefanti (Palace of the Elephants), formerly known as Palazzo del Senato, is a Baroque palace in Catania, located in the Piazza Duomo, close to the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. The name of the palace derives from the numerous elephants carved on its facade. SHORT HISTORY During the Aragonese period, the palace, called Palazzo Senatorio, served as a municipal archive. The city representatives gathered in the palace and, sometimes, also the parliament assembled within its walls. Lope Ximénez de Urrea y de Bardaixi, Viceroy of Sicily between 1443 and 1475, ordered that all the official documents of the Kingdom and the various writings related to the Aragonese sovereigns to be collected and kept in the archives of the palace. After the earthquake of 1693, which destroyed almost completely the city of Catania, numerous architects participated in the reconstruction of the palace. The original project was carried out by Giovan Battista Longobardo, with the collaboration of Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, who built the east, south and west facades, and of Carmelo Battaglia, who designed the north facade. The grand staircase that can be found in the inner courtyard of the palace was built in the 19th century by Stefano Ittar. On Read more [...]
Basilica della Collegiata, also known as Basilica Maria Santissima dell’Elemosina, is a Baroque church in Catania, located along the Via Etnea, a short distance from the Palace of the University. SHORT HISTORY In the early Christian centuries, a small church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built on the site of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to Proserpina. In the Byzantine era, the church was called Madonna dell’Elemosina. The church was rebuilt in the early 18th century, like most of the city of Catania, destroyed by the terrible earthquake of 1693. In 1896, Giuseppe Sciuti frescoed the vault and the dome of the church with various paintings of the Blessed Virgin Mary, angels and saints. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The project of the church is attributed to Angelo Italia, an Italian architect who lived in the 17th century, who changed the orientation of the building, in order to have it facing the Via Etnea. The facade, designed by Stefano Ittar, is a beautiful example of the Sicilian Baroque. The facade has two orders, with six stone columns on the first order, surmounted by a balustrade. On the second order, there is a central window and four large statues of Read more [...]
The Church of San Placido is a church in Catania, located in the square of the same name, about 120 meters from the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY The original structure of the church dates back to 1409, and was built on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to Bacchus. The church was razed to the ground by the catastrophic earthquake of 1693, which almost completely destroyed the city of Catania. On the initiative of three nuns who escaped the ruins of the church, the reconstruction, entrusted to the architect Stefano Ittar, began shortly after the earthquake. The new church was consecrated in 1723 and completed in 1769. In 1976, the church was closed due to structural problems and, after about three years of consolidation, it was reopened for worship in 1979. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade of the church, in Sicilian Baroque style, is made of white Taormina stone. On each side of the portal, there are the statues of saints Placido and Benedetto, and above, on the second order, smaller, those of the saints Scolastica and Geltrude, work of the sculptor Carmelo Distefano. The facade, concave in the center, is enclosed by a convex Read more [...]
Palazzo San Giuliano is a beautiful palace in Catania, located across the University Square from the Palace of the University. The palace houses the administrative offices of the University of Catania. SHORT HISTORY The palace was built in 1738 by the architect Giovan Battista Vaccarini for the Paternò family, Marquise of San Giuliano. The seismic events that took place over time have not affected the 18th-century structure, but the transformations made during the 19th and 20th centuries changed more or less its internal and external appearance. The building was remodeled several times, but the facade remained almost intact from the moment of its construction. Only the balustrade that crowns the roof was added in 1930s, when the palace was the seat of Credito Italiano, one of the first Italian banks. In the early 20th century, the palace hosted the Machiavelli Theater, founded by Angelo Grasso. Around the same time, a part of the building was occupied by the Hotel Bristol. ARCHITECTURE The facade of the palace has a large portal that overlooks the University Square, flanked by two marble columns recovered, probably, from a Roman building. Above the portal, there is a double coat of arms – to Read more [...]
Palazzo dell’Università (Palace of the University) is a beautiful palace in Catania, located in the square with the same name, along the Via Etnea. The palace is the seat of the Rectorate of the University of Catania, the oldest university in Sicily. SHORT HISTORY The University of Catania was founded on October 19, 1434, by Alfonso the Magnanimous, King of Naples and Sicily. On April 18, 1444, the constitution of the University was authorized by a papal bull of Pope Eugene IV. The courses began on October 19, 1445, with six professors, and were initially held in a building from Piazza Duomo, near the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. In 1684, the University was transferred to the San Marco Hospital until 1693, when the terrible earthquake of the Val di Noto destroyed most of the buildings in Catania, including the building in question. In 1696, work began on the construction of a new building, which will become the definitive location of the University. After the earthquake of 1785, the architect Francesco Battaglia rebuilt the facade of the palace. Subsequently, following the earthquake of 1818, a further restoration was necessary, which was entrusted to the architect Antonino Battaglia, the son of Francesco. Read more [...]
Piazza Archimede is a beautiful square in Syracuse, located in the historical center of the city, on the island of Ortygia, about 250 meters from the Cathedral of Syracuse and 280 meters from the Temple of Apollo. SHORT HISTORY In Greek times, although it was not a square, it was one of the main crossroads formed by the road of Decumano Maggiore, the current Via Dione and Via Roma, and the road of Decumano Minore, now Via della Maestranza and Via della Amalfitania. During the 16th century, prestigious buildings belonging to noble families of the time were built around the square. ARCHITECTURE At the center of the square, stands the beautiful Fountain of Diana, built in 1907 by the sculptor Giulio Moschetti. The nymph Arethusa is depicted in the act of escaping from Alpheus who, with outstretched arms, tries to grab her. Diana, at the center of the group, protects the young girl. To the north of the square, we have the Banco di Sicilia palace, built in 1928 after a design by Salvatore Caronia, which is characterized by a portal framed by rusticated semi-columns and a second order marked by pilasters with Ionic capitals. Next, to the Read more [...]
Henry’s House is a 4-Star hotel in Syracuse, located on the island of Ortygia, about 150 meters from the Maniace Castle and about 450 meters from the Cathedral of Syracuse. Hotel Henry’s House offers a sun terrace, a snack bar and free WiFi throughout the property. Most of the rooms feature a small balcony or sea views, and come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV and a minibar. The private bathroom includes a hairdryer and free toiletries. Eggs, ham and cheese are served daily at the international breakfast, along with locally produced cannoli pastries and cakes, orange juice and coffee. HOW TO GET THERE The Henry’s House is located about 2.2 kilometers from the Syracuse railway station. To find the hotel on foot, use the map below.
Re Federico is a boutique hotel in Syracuse, located in the historical center of the city, on the Ortygia island, about 450 meters from the Cathedral of Syracuse and about 700 meters from the Maniace Castle. The hotel is housed in a historical palace from 1770. The palace is comprised of three floors, with a terrace and a comfortable and modern elevator. Every unit features a private bathroom and bidet, air conditioning, a flat-screen TV and a fridge. Guests can enjoy a continental breakfast. Both a bicycle rental service and a car rental service are available at the accommodation. HOW TO GET THERE Re Federico Boutique Hotel is located about 2.1 kilometers from the Syracuse railway station. To find the hotel on foot, use the map below.
CinqueSuites is a bed and breakfast in Syracuse, located in the historical center of the city, on the Ortygia island, about 350 meters from the Cathedral of Syracuse. The building was completely renovated in 2017, and it comprises of 3 floors with a magnificent panoramic terrace, dedicated to sunbathing, and a spacious bar for breakfast and cocktails at sunset. The B&B features five sophisticated and welcoming apartments, where contemporary art and design create a beautiful atmosphere. Each apartment comes with a seating or living area, flat-screen TV and balcony. The en suite bathroom includes a shower and free toiletries. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. HOW TO GET THERE CinqueSuites B&B is located about 1.8 kilometers away from the Syracuse train station. To find the bed and breakfast on foot, use the map below.
Fonte Aretusa is a beautiful fountain in Syracuse, located in the historical center of the city, on the island of Ortygia. According to a legend from Greek mythology, Arethusa was a nymph, daughter of Nereus, who fled from her home beneath the sea, in Arcadia, and became a fresh water fountain on the island of Ortygia. Inside the pool of the fountain, grows papyrus, Ortygia being one of the two places in Europe where this plant grows, with the other being the Fiumefreddo River, also in Sicily, near Catania. SHORT HISTORY Over the centuries, the fountain undergone several transformations. At first, it was located outside the fortification walls of the city, and could be accessed from the sea through a steep staircase. In the 16th century, the water source was divided into several streams used for tanning leather, which formed a lake of about 200 meters in diameter. In 1540, the fountain was incorporated into the fortifications of the city, when the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V strengthened the military structures of Ortigia, to be freed in 1847, when the reservoir took its present form. The viewpoint next to the fountain is what remains of the ancient bastion, demolished Read more [...]
The Temple of Apollo (Tempio di Apollo) is one of the most important ancient monuments of Syracuse, located in Largo XXV Luglio, on the island of Ortygia. SHORT HISTORY The temple can be dated to the beginning of the 6th century BC, being considered the oldest Doric temple in Sicily. Over time, the temple underwent several transformations. In the first half of the first millennium of our era, it was a Byzantine church, of which the frontal staircase and parts of a central door are still preserved, and then it became an Islamic mosque. Subsequently, the Norman Church of the Savior was built on its place, which was later incorporated into a 16th-century Spanish barracks, while some architectural elements remained visible. These successive transformations seriously damaged the building, which was rediscovered around 1860 inside the Spanish barracks, and was brought to light thanks to the excavations carried out by Paolo Orsi between 1938 and 1942. ARCHITECTURE The temple has a lenght of 55.36 meters and a width of 21.47 meters. It is one of the first Greek temples made of stone, marking the transition from the ancient wooden structures. The building has a hexastyle front and a continuous Read more [...]
Piazza Duomo is the main square of Syracuse, located in the historical center of the city, on the island of Ortygia. The semielliptical square gathers many beautiful Baroque buildings, but also houses ancient treasures, as we will see below. ARCHITECTURE The most important building in the square is, without doubt, the Baroque Cathedral of Syracuse, dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Cathedral, located to the east of the square, if one of the first Christian churches in Europe, and incorporates parts of a Greek doric temple dedicated to Athena, the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom and war. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Archbishop’s Palace, a beautiful palazzo built in Baroque style in 1618. The palace is, today, the seat of the Archdiocese of Syracuse, and houses the Archiepiscopal Seminary and the ancient Alagonian Library. Next, we have the entrance to the Hypogeum of Piazza Duomo, a vast network of passages and tunnels dug in the soft limestone of the Ortygia island. To the south of the square, there is the beautiful Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia, dedicated to the patron saint of Syracuse, Saint Lucia. The church was built between 1695 and 1703, Read more [...]
The Palace of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Syracuse (Palazzo della Sovrintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Siracusa) is a palace in Syracuse, located in Piazza del Duomo, on the island of Ortigia, across the square from the Archbishop’s Palace and the Cathedral of Syracuse. The palace is also known as the Numismatic Cabinet, due to the fact that it houses a permanent exhibition of ancient coins. SHORT HISTORY The palace was built in the second half of the 19th century, on the site of a deconsecrated convent, known as the Convent of San Giovanni di Dio, which housed the seat of the Archaeological Museum of Syracuse, now transferred in Viale Teocrito, in the modern part of Syracuse. ARCHITECTURE The facade of the palace, with two orders, was built in Neoclassical style. On the ground floor, there is the large portal and four rectangular windows. On the upper order, we can find five arched windows, separated by pilasters with Ionic capitals. Inside, there is the numismatic collection of Greek, Roman and medieval coins, many of which were found in Syracuse. HOW TO GET THERE The Palace of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Syracuse is located about Read more [...]
The Archbishop’s Palace (Palazzo Arcivescovile) is a palace in Syracuse, located on the island of Ortygia, in Piazza Duomo, adjacent to the Cathedral of Syracuse. The palace is the seat of the Archdiocese Of Syracuse, and houses the Archiepiscopal Seminary and, also, the ancient Alagonian Library. SHORT HISTORY The original building was a palace of the Swabian era, built during the times of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, around the year 1200. Today, the only trace of this palace is an ancient chapel, well preserved, located inside the courtyard of the present 19th century building. This Swabian construction presents some cross vaults very reminiscent of the Maniace Castle. The palace underwent important changes in the Aragonese era. After the demolition of the first building, the current structure was commissioned by the Spanish bishop Juan de Torres Osorio of Syracuse, and the work began in 1618, under the supervision of the architect Andrea Vermexio. The structure of the Archbishop’s Palace, as we know it today, is the result of systematic restorations made during the 18th and the 19th centuries, which transformed the building into a late Baroque style palace tending towards Neoclassicism. The building was inaugurated in 1854, by the Read more [...]
Fontana di Diana is a monumental fountain in Syracuse, located on the Ortygia island, in Piazza Archimede. SHORT HISTORY After the creation of the Archimedes Square in 1878, the Municipality of Syracuse commissioned the sculptor Giulio Moschetti to build a fountain. The sculptor was choosen after his creation in Catania, the beautiful Fountain of Prosepina, has received many praise. After the presentation of the preparatory sketch of the fountain, the City Council commissioned the work through a resolution dated February 1, 1906. Giulio Moschetti built the fountain in about ten months, between 1906 and 1907, with the help of his son, the sculptor Mario Moschetti. ARCHITECTURE The fountain faces south and highlights the figure of Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, protector of Ortygia in ancient times. The sculpture of Diana holds a bow and is accompanied by a dog, the attributes of the goddess of hunting. At her feet, there is Arethusa, the Nereid who fled from her home in Arcadia, beneath the sea, and according to legend was transformed into a fresh water fountain on the island of Ortygia. Near Arethusa, her lover, Alpheus, is amazed by what is happening to her. Inside the tank Read more [...]
B&B Vicere Speciale is a bed and breakfast in Noto, located near the Palazzo Ducezio and about 150 meters from the Cathedral of San Nicolò. All the rooms are decorated in a rustic style and fitted with wooden furnishings. Each room is air conditioned, has a flat-screen TV and an en suite bathroom. The B&B offers free WiFi and a variety of choice for breakfast, which includes both savoury and sweet options you can choose from. HOW TO GET THERE Vicere Speciale is located about 1.1 kilometers from the Noto train station. If you need to find the B&B on foot, use the map below.
Hotel Porta Reale is a 4-Star hotel in Noto, located about 80 meters away from the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi all’Immacolata and 240 meters from the Cathedral of San Nicolò. The hotel is spread over 3 floors, and all the rooms offer an iPod docking station, air conditioning, free WiFi access, Sky TV and a phone with free national and international calls. The en suite bathrooms in natural stone are completed with free toiletries, bathrobes and slippers. Some rooms face the main street. A sweet Italian breakfast, including Sicilian specialities, is provided daily at the property. HOW TO GET THERE Hotel Porta Reale is located 1 kilometer away from the Noto railway station. To easily find it on foot, use the map below.
Gagliardi Boutique Hotel is a beautiful hotel in Noto, located about 40 meters from the Ducezio Palace and about 100 meters from the Cathedral of San Nicolò. Gagliardi Hotel provides concierge services, and features a garden and a terrace with a wonderful view of the city. Every room is fitted with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Guests at Gagliardi Boutique Hotel can enjoy a buffet breakfast. The hotel offers a 24-hour front desk, room service and luggage storage for guests. HOW TO GET THERE Gagliardi Boutique Hotel is located about 1.1 kilometers away from the Noto railway station. To find the hotel on foot, use the map below.
Teatro Tina di Lorenzo is a theater in Noto, located on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, about 300 meters away from the Cathedral of San Nicolò and the Palazzo Ducezio. The theater was named after the famous Italian actress Tina di Lorenzo, who was raised in Noto and became a star on stage and in silent films during the first decades of the 20th century. The theater is also known as the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele III, and is defined by some people as the Scala di Milano in miniature due to its sumptuous interiors. SHORT HISTORY At the beginning of the 19th century, the people of Noto, feeling the need for a theater, began to use a wing of the Ducezio Palace for such representations. However, the solution did not satisfied the ever increasing demands of the citizens, especially after Noto was named capital of the province of Syracuse in 1837, and in 1851 the decision to build a new municipal theater was taken. In 1855, a committee of citizens was formed to raise the funds necessary for the construction. Later, the architect Francesco Sortino was commissioned to design the new building. At his death, in 1863, the direction of the Read more [...]
The Church of Santissimo Salvatore (Most Holy Saviour) is a church in Noto, located between the Cathedral of San Nicolò and the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi all’Immacolata. The church is part of a larger complex, along with the Monastery of the SS. Salvatore and the Episcopal Seminary. SHORT HISTORY The construction of the church began in 1767 under the supervision of the architect priest Andrea Gigante, to replace an old church dating back to the beginning of the 18th century. At his death, with the church unfinished, the initial project was partially modified by D. Antonio Mazza, and the church was completed and consecrated in 1802. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The decorative cycle of the interior is one of the most significant examples of the Sicilian cultural transition phase between the late Baroque and Neoclassicism. Begun in 1794 and completed two years later, the interior is the result of the pictorial interventions of Ermenegildo Martorana from Palermo and those in stucco of Giovanni Gianforma. Among the frescoes, we can find the Pentecost, Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus and the Appearance of Three Mysterious Men to Abraham. The paintings found on the side altars are also of Read more [...]
The Church of San Francesco d’Assisi all’Immacolata is a beautiful church in Noto, located about 180 meters from the Cathedral of San Nicolò and the Ducezio Palace. Along with the adjacent Convent of the Friars Minor Capuchin, the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi to the Immaculate is considered one of the most important religious buildings in Noto. SHORT HISTORY The church was built between 1704 and 1745, after a design by the architects Vincenzo Sinatra and Rosario Gagliardi. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The harmonious facade of the church, with two orders, stands at the end of an imposing staircase with three ramps. The magnificent portal of the church is flanked by two Baroque columns, with two niches on each side and a smaller one above. On the second order, we can find a beautiful stained glass window. The interior, with a single nave, is rich in paintings and funerary monuments dedicated to members of noble families of Noto. As you enter the church, you can see on your left, inside the vault of the SS. Innocenti (Blessed Inocents), a painting entitled the Massacre of the Innocents, made by Antonino Vizzini in 1706. The vault of B. Andrea Conti Read more [...]
The Church of Santissimo Crocifisso is a church located on the northern part of Noto, in Piazza Mazzini. The Church of the Holy Cross is the largest religious building in the city, after the Cathedral of San Nicolò. SHORT HISTORY The church was built in 1715 by the architect Rosario Gagliardi, after a church with the same dedication from the ancient city of Noto (Noto Antica), located on Mount Alveria, was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade, with two incomplete orders, opens onto the large Mazzini Square, preceded by a wide staircase. On each side of the central portal, finely carved in limestone, two Roman lions were placed until 1984, when were transferred inside the church to preserve them from the atmospheric agents. The church has a Latin cross plan with three naves, surmounted by an imposing dome. The interior is very bright due to the large windows of the central nave. The wooden reliquary cross located in the apse was carved in 1746 by Vincenzo Rotondo, after a design by Gagliardi. On each side of the cross are two oval-shaped canvases depicting the Madonna Addolorata (Our Lady of Sorrows) and San Giovanni. Read more [...]
Palazzo Ducezio, the seat of the Town Hall of Noto, is a beautiful palace located across the Piazza del Municipio from the Cathedral of San Nicolò. The palace was named in honor of Ducezio, King of the Sicels and founder of Noto. SHORT HISTORY The palace was designed by the architect Vincenzo Sinatra in 1746, inspired by some French palaces of the 17th century, but was completed only in 1830. She second floor of the palace was built in the first half of the 20th century by the architect Francesco La Grassa. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The convex facade of the palace is characterized by twenty arches supported by columns with Ionic capitals in the lower section, and by thirteen rectangular windows in the upper section. Inside, we can find the Sala degli Specchi (Hall of Mirrors), an oval-shaped hall decorated with stuccos and sumptuous mirrors at the end of the 19th century. Over time, the Hall of Mirrors was used to receive many heads of state. At the beginning of the 1930s, on the occasion of the official visit of Umberto and Maria Josè of Savoy, the hall was restored by the painter Gregorietti. The furniture was made Read more [...]
Casa Vialonga is an apartment in Modica, located about 170 meters from the Cathedral of San Giorgio and about 260 meters from the Duomo of San Pietro. Casa Vialonga features a seating area, a dining area and a kitchen equipped with oven. There is also a private bathroom with a bidet and shower. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. HOW TO GET THERE Casa Vialonga is located about 1.5 kilometers from the Modica railway station. To find the apartment on foot, use the map below.
Dimora Birulla is a bed and breakfast located in the historical center of Modica, only 150 meters from the Duomo of San Pietro and about 650 meters from the Cathedral of San Giorgio. Dimora Birulla features two double rooms and a suite, composed of a double and a twin room, each with its own bathroom. The rooms are elegant and comfortable, and come with free WiFi, air conditioning and a TV. In the morning, at the property, you can enjoy a buffet or an Italian breakfast. HOW TO GET THERE Dimora Birulla is located about 1.1 kilometers away from the Modica railway station. To find the bed and breakfast on foot, use the map below.
Oro Hotel is a 3-Star hotel in Modica, located only 100 meters from the Duomo di San Pietro and about 600 meters from the Cathedral of San Giorgio. The hotel was born in a palace from the 18th century, meticulously renovated to offer guests a warm and intimate atmosphere. The hotel has eight elegant rooms on two floors, each named after an essence of Modica chocolate: Orange, Cinnamon, Jasmine, Vanilla, Mandarin, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom. The rooms are air conditioned, and have private bathrooms completed with shower, toiletries and hairdryer. Oro Hotel also features a large terrace with a panoramic view of the city. HOW TO GET THERE Oro Hotel is located about 1.1 kilometers away from the Modica train station. To find the hotel on foot, use the map below.
The Church of San Domenico, known also as the Church of Santa Maria del Rosario, is a beautiful church in Modica, located near the Town Hall of the city, in Piazza Principe di Napoli. The church is one of the few buildings that remained intact after the earthquake of 1693, which caused over 60,000 deaths and destroyed almost completely nearby cities like Catania, Ragusa, Noto and Syracuse. SHORT HISTORY A first church, with the adjacent Dominican convent, was built on this place in 1461, the year in which the Dominicans settled in Modica. The original church was destroyed by the earthquake of 1613 and was rebuilt in 1678, to survive a few years later the great earthquake of 1693. During the Inquisition, the convent was used as a court in which were judged the ones accused of heresy. Beginning with 1869, the convent became the seat of the Town Hall of Modica. ARCHITECTURE The facade of the church has two orders. On the first order, we can find the portal surmounted by a large Dominican coat of arms, and two niches with as many statues. On the second order, there are also two niches housing two statues and Read more [...]
Teatro Garibaldi is a theater in Modica, located on Corso Umberto I, about 200 meters away from the Duomo di San Pietro. SHORT HISTORY The theater was born in the second decade of the 19th century, from the merging of a warehouse and a palace, receiving the name of Real Teatro Ferdinandeo. The building was enlarged between 1852 and 1857, reaching its current size. The facade of the building was built in Neoclassical style, with two orders, surmounted by a balustrade which presents, in the center, a bas-relief with musical instruments. Above the bas-relief, supported by two male figures, is a clock with an eagle on top, the symbol of the County of Modica. After the Unification of Italy, the theater was named after Giuseppe Garibaldi. In 1870, the building became municipal property. In 1943, the theater was adapted into a movie theater. At the end of the Second World War, the building was unsafe, the floors and decorations were deteriorated, and renovation works became necessary. When the works were completed, the theater had an enlarged stage, a greater number of seats in the stalls and a tribune, above which was the projection room. In 1984, the theater was Read more [...]
Castello dei Conti (Castle of the Counts) is a fortification built on a rocky spur in Modica, which was for centuries the seat of political and administrative power of the County of Modica. SHORT HISTORY The Castle of the Counts is mentioned for the first time in a papal bull dated August 21, 1255. Then, in 1272, the castle appears on a list of the Sicilian state castles (Statutum Castrorum Siciliae) made for Charles I of Anjou, King of Sicily between 1266 and 1285. In 1366, the Count Matteo Chiaramonte received here the visit of King Frederick IV of Aragon and, in 1401, the Count Bernardo Cabrera welcomed the King of Sicily, Martin I. Starting with 1361, the castle was also the seat of the Grand Court of Justice. With the city becoming the Capital of the District of the Intendancy of Syracuse, the seat of all the offices remained in the castle until 1865. With the Unification of Italy, the religious orders were expelled from their convents and monasteries, and the Castello dei Conti was definitively abandoned, transfering the Prison, the Court and the District Offices to the nearby convents that became available. ARCHITECTURE Inside the castle, Read more [...]