The Church of San Domenico (Chiesa di San Domenico), designed in a Greek cross plan by Syracuse architect Rosario Gagliardi, is a highlight of private or small-group walking tours that take in the town’s baroque highlights, including the Cathedral (Duomo), Basilica del Santissimo Salvatore, and San Carlo al Corso, as well as Ducezio Palace (Palazzo Ducezio) in Piazza Municipio. In addition to its magnificent facade in carved limestone—one of the hallmarks of architecture in the Val di Noto during the Sicilian baroque era—San Domenico features the area’s characteristic stucco decoration inside each of the church’s five domes.
Things to know before you go
- Noto, one of the most picturesque towns in Sicily, is a paradise for photographers.
- Walking tours require a significant amount of time under the hot Sicilian sun, so wear a hat and sunscreen.
- You must have shoulders and knees covered to enter Noto’s historic churches.
- The old town is crisscrossed with steep, narrow lanes and pedestrian staircases, so can be challenging to explore in a wheelchair; San Domenico has a short flight of steps at the entrance.
How to get there
The Church of San Domenico (Chiesa di San Domenico) is located on Piazza XVI Maggio, not far from the city’s cathedral (Duomo). The city is a 40-minute drive from Syracuse and there is a bus that runs between the two towns, but the easiest way to visit is with a guided tour that includes transportation.
When to get there
Many of Noto’s most historic churches, including San Domenico, close briefly at midday, so the best time to tour the city’s architectural highlights is in the morning or afternoon. The baroque limestone facades in the historic center are particularly lovely to photograph in the golden hours of sunset.
The UNESCO-Listed Val di Noto
San Domenico is one of a group of churches and palaces that are grouped into the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation “Val di Noto,” added to UNESCO’s list in 2002. The cohesive style of the towns in the Val di Noto is a result of a massive earthquake in 1693 that destroyed many of the buildings in the area; these were later rebuilt during the same time period, which coincided with the peak of the Sicilian baroque style.
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