A Guide to Noto: Churches, Tours & Dining in 2024

Admittedly the first time I heard about Noto was watching The White Lotus, when Daphne turns to Harper and suggests a day trip to Noto. The following scenes piqued my interest even further and when it came to organizing our own White Lotus trip to Sicily this summer, Noto was quickly added to the itinerary. 

View over Cathedral San Nicolo of Mira in Noto
Cathedral San Nicolo of Mira

Noto is a 30-minute train ride from Syracuse or can easily be reached from Catania as part of an organized tour of Ortigia & Noto if you are short on time or want a guided excursion. 

Noto is not(o)able (I’m so sorry) for its collection of many religious buildings in such a small area. It’s kind of impossible to walk around Noto and not bump into a church, and that in the Baroque style which has made this part of Sicily worth visiting. 

During the 17th century, an enormous earthquake destroyed the city of Noto (and most of Catania) and killed many of its residents. During the reconstruction of Noto, the city was moved to a nearby site and rebuilt from the ground up in a Baroque style that would make the region infamous for its architecture. 

Most of the main sights of Noto can be seen walking down the impressive Corso Vittorio Emanuele. 

Churches in Noto Sicily

Cathedral San Nicolo of Mira

The largest religious building in Noto is the incredible Cathedral San Nicolo of Mira. The church was built during the 17th and 19th centuries after a devastating earthquake destroyed most of Noto. 

The impressive Cathedral sits at the top of three flights of an enormous staircase that is hugely impressive and best seen from one of the roofs of nearby buildings. Expansive and a showstopper, the Cathedral San Nicolo of Mira is just one of many churches in Noto that is rather impressive. 

Il Campanile di San Carlo

There are lots of vantage points to have incredible views over Cathedral San Nicolo of Mira and panoramic views over Noto. Head inside the church of Chiesa di San Carlo al Corso and for a small fee of you €4 per person you can climb the bell tower and have an incredible vista overlooking Noto. 

View from Il Campanile di San Carlo

Do note if you are claustrophobic, you may not enjoy squeezing up the very small and narrow staircase of Il Campanile di San Carlo. There is only room for a single person to go up or down the stairs, one at a time. 

Chiesa di San Carlo al Corso

Church of SS. Salvatore & Belvedere Tower

Probably my favorite church in Noto was that of Chiesa di SS. Salvatore which was commissioned by the abbess Isabella Rau della Ferla which may explain the stunning pink hues inside the church.

The light pink blush of the walls within the church are so delicate and worth stepping inside for further examination. The complex of the church is one of the largest buildings in Noto that includes a seminary and convent.

You can climb the Belvedere Tower for a small fee and have stunning views over the city of Noto, especially the Cathedral San Nicolo of Mira. 

Palazzos in Noto

There are several palazzos to visit in Noto that are former residences of Noto society during the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of the palazzos are cash only and between €7 & €10 to enter. 

Some of the palazzos are better maintained than others and of more note. 

Nicolaci Palazzo

Trigona Palazzo

Palazzo Ducezio – the city hall of Noto was built in the 18th century. Inside you’ll find the Hall of Mirrors, a small theatre inspired by Louis XV, and a terrace on the second floor of the Palazzo Ducezio that offers direct views of the Cathedral San Nicolo of Mira.

Palazzo Ducezio Noto
Palazzo Ducezio in Noto

Infiorata di Noto (Noto Flower Festival)

The notable flower festival of Noto takes place in May each year on the 3rd weekend of the month. The street of Via Nicolaci hosts the festival where competitors create flower mosaics on one of the prettiest streets in Noto. Running since 1980, the theme of the Noto flower festival changes each year and draws thousands of visitors to the city for a massive celebration. 

Via Nicolaci

Is Noto worth visiting?

Noto is a beautiful city in Sicily that is worth visiting if you are looking for beautiful ornate Baroque buildings. There are seemingly endless amounts of churches (we didn’t go into all of them), so if you are a bit ‘churched’ out of it, then Noto may not be your cup of tea. There are a number of Palazzos to enter if you’ve had your fill of churches for the day.

Noto is a good half-day excursion from Syracuse of Catania, or best combined as part of a tour of Syracuse & Ortigia. 

If you have had your fill of churches throughout Sicily, or are not interested in a stunning city constructed in the Baroque style then you’re probably not going to love Noto. 

How many days do you need in Noto?

A half-day will cover the majority of entering a few churches and palazzos as well as grabbing some lunch or dinner. 

Where to eat in Noto

Caffè Sicilia is a must-stop when visiting Noto. Grab a seat outdoors if you are lucky and order a traditional Sicilian breakfast of Granite & Brioche or any of the delicious sweet things that are served for breakfast. 

Breakfast items of Granite & Brioche in Caffe Sicilia in Noto.
Caffe Sicilia Breakfast

The wait staff is excellent, and knowledgeable and a visit to Caffè Sicilia is imperative when visiting Noto – especially on a warm day!

Panificio Maidda – a delicious bakery that sells bread and focaccia, we grabbed some goodies to go and ate them in the park. 

Panificio Maidda in Noto
Panificio Maidda

Anche gli Angeli – A nice place to grab a drink, peruse their Italian book collection, or enjoy live music. 

Anche gli Angeli

Getting to Noto

From Catania: You can take an Interbus from Catania Piazza Paolo Borsellino to Noto in 1 hour and 30 minutes. There are various departures throughout the day. You can purchase your bus ticket from Omio and the fare should be €9 each way.

Most visitors from Catania visit Noto as part of a combined tour of Syracuse & Noto. If you are short on time, this is one of the best ways to get a taste for Noto & Syracuse, especially Ortigia which shouldn’t be missed. 

If you are driving from Catania, the E45 will take you eventually to Noto after around an hour and 10 minutes. 

From Syracuse: One of the best ways to get from Syracuse to Noto is by taking one of the cutest little trains from Syracuse Train Station. The small train takes 35 minutes and departs several times throughout the day. The earliest train that departs from Syracuse to Noto is at 10 am (check the train timetable) and you can book your tickets on Trainline. 

We bought an open-return ticket and you can also purchase train tickets on the train (the ticket machine in Noto Train Station didn’t appear to work). 

You can also take an Interbus from Syracuse Bus Terminus (beside Syracuse Train Station). 

Noto Train Station
Noto Train Station

Noto Train Station is a 15/20 minute walk up to the historic center of Noto. The road gradually climbs, so it is manageable. The distance is just under 1.5km, and you’ll also find tuk-tuks and taxis waiting outside Noto Train Station which can bring you up to Noto Centro. 

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