The town dates from the 18th century - there was a town that stood nearby previously but it was destroyed by the infamous earthquake of 1693 (the ruins of the original town can also be visited).
In common with several other Sicilian towns, the architecture in Noto is relentlessly baroque - and very charming. It is perhaps exactly what you would look for in a 'perfect town in Italy'. Indeed it is so beautiful it is considered to be one of the most beautiful towns of Sicily and Italy.
One of the most impressive of these baroque buildings is the newly restored Noto Cathedral - made even more so by the broad, long stone staircase that rises to the front of the building. An unusual design, the cathedral facade incorporates two towers (one a clocktower, the other a belltower) either side of the main entrance.
The cathedral is on the main square of the town as is the Palazzo Ducezio which, with its many arches and columns is one of the highlights of Noto. This is now the town hall and you can enter to visit the 'hall of mirrors' with its 19th century frescoes.
The main street of Noto, the Corso Vittorio Emanuele crosses three square and between them the major buildings of Noto. Another of these squares is the Piazza Immacolata where you will find the church of San Francesco all'Immacolata.
Next to the church is the beautiful monastery of Sant Salvatore and together these buildings are one of the highlights of a trip to Noto. The monastery is one of the largest buildings in Noto and is a fine example of the architectural transition from Baroque to Classicism. Be sure to enter the monastery whose intereior is painted in a mix of pastel colours.
On Piazza XVI Maggio is the splendid church of Saint Domenico which is one of Noto's finest Baroque buildings. Next to it is the convent of Saint Domenico. Both were designed by Rosario Gagliardi who is thought to be buried in the church.
As you walk along Corso Emanuele don't miss Via Nicolaci along which you will find the beautiful church of Montevergini with an unusual elliptical facade. Also on this street is the Palazzo Nicolaci whose balconies are decorated with a wonderful array of cherubs, horses, griffons and lots more.
Be sure to walk down the Corso Emanuele again in the evening when the setting sun bathes the buildings in a rich golden glow!
Elsewhere in Noto there are numerous other churches and palaces (palazzos) with stunning baroque facades.
Places to visit near Noto
The surrounding region, known as the Val di Noto, contains several towns and villages that were destroyed by the same earthquake and were reconstructed in the 'late-baroque' style and, because of the architecture, is now listed as the Val di Noto heritage site.