Planning a trip to south eastern Sicily soon? Ragusa and Noto are two picturesque cities with Sicilian Baroque architecture from the 18th century. These towns are about an hour away from each other and a day trip is definitely possible.
Both Noto and Ragusa have very similar styles in terms of architecture as they were both rebuilt in the late Baroque style after the earthquake hit in 1693. Both cities also have delicious food but if you are a cheese lover, Ragusa produces one of the oldest cheeses in Sicily. Ragusa also has a livelier nightlife than Noto. However, if you are a beach lover, Noto is closer to some of the unspoiled beaches in Sicily.
In this article, we will talk about some of the sights, attractions, beaches, and nightlife in Ragusa and Noto. Planning a trip is hard so we’ll take a look at what these cities have to offer so you can decide which city is better to visit.
Ragusa Vs Noto Sicily
Ragusa and Noto, along with Caltagirone, Militello, Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Palazzolo, and Scicli are Baroque cities that are part of the Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto located in southeast Sicily. These cities were all rebuilt in the late Baroque style after the devastating earthquake hit southeastern Sicily in 1693.
Some of these cities were built on new sites, some were repaired, and Catania is still sitting on its original site before the earthquake hit. These cities are located in southeastern Sicily and it might be hard to explore all of the cities in one go. Let’s take a look at two cities of Val di Noto and see which is better: Ragusa or Noto.
Sights And Attractions In Ragusa
Ragusa is divided into two towns: Ragusa Ibla (Lower Ragusa) and Ragusa Superiore (Upper Ragusa) and they are connected by numerous steps and winding streets. After the 1693 earthquake, the old town of Ragusa was repaired while a newer town was built on a hilltop. This hilltop town is Ragusa Superiore and it lies below the Hyblaean Mountains.
Ragusa Ibla is a main attraction itself and is more visited by tourists than the upper town. If you are big on historical buildings, you will find traces of 18th-century architecture that survived the earthquake. Palazzo Cosentini and Palazzo Bertini are two 18th-century palazzi that are in Ragusa Ibla.
Duomo di San Giorgio
With almost all Sicilians being Roman Catholic, you can expect to see a lot of churches on the island and Ragusa is no exception. One of the most beautiful buildings that were built in the Sicilian Baroque style is the Church of San Giorgio. This church is located in Ragusa Ibla and it is open to the public, free of charge. This church is not to be confused with the church of San Giorgio in Modica.
If you want to see colors other than brown and white, head on to Giardino Ibleo to surround yourself with greenery. Giardino Ibleo is a public garden located in lower Ragusa and it is a great place to relax and stroll around. Benches are also available all over the garden if you get tired of exploring. Some parts of Ragusa Superiore can also be seen from some parts of the garden.
Cathedral Of San Giovanni
Another cathedral that you don’t want to miss when you are in Ragusa is the Cathedral of San Giovanni. The cathedral was also built in the Sicilian Baroque style and is located in Piazza San Giovanni in Ragusa Superiore. Inside the cathedral, you will see gilded walls and polychrome marble statues. Like the church of San Giorgio, the entrance to the cathedral is free and open to the public.
Sights And Attractions In Noto
This 18th-century cathedral is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it sits in the historic city center of Noto and is one of the main tourist attractions in the city. This impressive building sits atop a flight of stairs and overlooks the main plaza (Piazza Duomo) of Noto. Some parts of Noto Cathedral actually collapsed in 1996 because of its weekend state caused by an earthquake in 1990. Some of the cathedral walls are now painted white but the history and character of the church still remain.
Right across from Noto Cathedral is Palazzo Ducezio where Noto’s Town Hall currently resides. It was built in 1746 and the building’s interiors are inspired by Louis XV. Only one room is accessible to the public and there is an entrance fee to visit the Hall of Mirrors. The balcony of the palace can also be visited from May to September and other important holidays in Noto.
Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata
Another must-see 18th-century building in Noto is the Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata. This Palace was owned by the Nicolaci family during the 18th century but the main wing was sold to the government of Noto in 1983. Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata is the largest palace in Noto and it boasts a total of 90 rooms to date. The palace is known for its wrought iron balustrades which are supported by statues like winged horses, mermaids, and sphinx. The palace is open to the public and you can buy tickets in advance to visit the site.
Sicily is a beach destination for tourists and there are a lot of beautiful beaches on the island with crystal clear waters and white fine sands. While there are no beaches in both Noto and Ragusa, there are nearby beaches in both cities if you want to go swimming in southeastern Sicily.
Marina di Ragusa is a seaside village located about 25 km away from Ragusa and it is just about a 30-minute drive by car. Marina di Ragusa used to be a small fishing village but is now more popular because of its sandy beaches and nightlife. The beach gets busy, especially during the summer but the coastline is big so the beaches do not feel too crowded.
Vendicari Reserve is home to some of the unspoiled beaches in Sicily and it is about a 20-minute drive from Noto. There are five beaches in the Vendicari Reserve – Eloro Beach, Marianelli Beach, Calamosche Beach, Vendicari Beach, and San Lorenzo Beach. These beaches have fine sands and crystal clear waters that are perfect for swimming. Some of the beaches are equipped with facilities and services at an additional fee but you can bring your own beach towel if you don’t want to pay for these amenities. Entrance to the reserve is not free and you have to pay before going to one of the beaches in the reserve.
There is another place near Noto where you can go and enjoy the waters. Laghetti Cavagrande is not a beach but a natural oasis with waterfalls, natural pools, and limestone formations. This natural oasis is about a 30-minute drive from Noto and you need to hike for about an hour to reach the swimming holes. Make sure to wear appropriate hiking shoes and to bring snacks and water with you. Access to the natural pools is free.
Both Noto and Ragusa offer delicious Sicilian cuisine and both cities have a lot of restaurants that you can dine in.
Noto has been largely influenced by Arab, Greek, and Spanish cultures so you can expect Noto cuisine to have other flavors. However, you can still find traditional Sicilian food served in a lot of restaurants. If you want to experience Sicilian sweets and drinks, Caffe Sicilia is one of the popular cafés in Noto. Caffe Sicilia is known for its two traditional Sicilian sweets, cannoli and cassata.
Ragusa, on the other hand, exclusively produces one of the oldest cheeses in Sicily. The Ragusano is an Italian cow’s-milk cheese and is sold at different stages of aging. If you are a cheese lover, definitely give Ragusano a try! Aside from cheeses, Ragusa also offers traditional Sicilian dishes and there are fine dining restaurants that offer contemporary dishes as well.
When it comes to nightlife, Ragusa and Noto are not the places you would think of. But, that is not to say that both these towns do not have bars or clubs. Most bars and clubs in Noto and Ragusa mostly sell local craft beers and these places are not your typical nightclubs with dancing and partying involved. If you want a livelier bar scene, staying in Ragusa is your best option. There are some clubs and bars that operate late at night until early morning. Marina di Ragusa also has a livelier nightlife than Ragusa’s town proper.
Ragusa Vs Noto – In Conclusion
Ragusa and Noto are definitely two picturesque cities that both have beautiful architecture built in the Baroque style. There are also nearby beaches in both cities if you want to swim in Italian waters. Choosing between Ragusa and Noto is hard and the best city will depend on your personal travel style and preferences.
You can definitely visit both if you have more time. If you are staying in Noto, you can do a day trip to Ragusa and vice versa. Both cities are small and can be explored in one day. But, definitely stay at least 2 days in each city to appreciate their beauty. We hope this article helps you plan your next trip to Sicily. If you have any other questions, let us know!