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Baroque

Noto: Version 2.0

If you’re an adult human living in the 21st century, you have at some point in your life suffered a catastrophic computer crash. You’ve been faced with the choice of whether to try and recover your system, or just start fresh with a clean install. And you’ve probably learned that, almost always, the best option is to start clean and reinstall from scratch. Restorations rarely work and, even if you’re able to cobble your computer back to a semi-functional state, there are usually problems. No, it’s best to bite the bullet, lose some work, and start over. For metaphorical proof from history, just look at the Sicilian city of Noto.

The Monsters of Villa Palagonia

Without a doubt, the top touristic sight in the town of Bagheria is Villa Palagonia. A architectural masterpiece and ode to eccentricity, this building is most famous for its flock of “monsters”: an army of gargoyles who adorn the garden walls.

The Church and Oratory of San Domenico

Second in importance only to Palermo’s Cathedral, the Chiesa di San Domenico is a church found in the Vucciria neighborhood. Originally constructed between 1458 and 1480, the church sits away from Via Roma at the back of the plaza that shares its name. With its impressive Baroque facade and its sheer size, we couldn’t resist taking a peek inside.

Casa Professa

Although it’s tucked into the maze-like alleys of the Albergheria, the Casa Professa (or the Chiesa del Gesù, as it’s more officially known) isn’t difficult to find. Just head towards that beautiful green and white tiled dome, visible over most of the neighborhood’s rooftops. One of southern Italy’s most spectacular Baroque churches awaits.

The Baroque Magnificence of Santa Caterina

Near Palermo’s Quattro Canti is the Church of Santa Caterina, whose modest exterior belies the Baroque magnificence waiting inside.

Construction on the church began in 1566, but the interior decoration dates from the 17th and 18th centuries, when Baroque was at its height, and the Catholic church was encouraging intricate detail and emotional themes.

The Quattro Canti

The uneven, twisting alleyways which dominate the ancient center of Palermo are charming, but a navigational nightmare. Funny, then, that the dead center of the historic district is an impeccably laid-out intersection, and one of Europe’s earliest examples of urban planning.