|Noto is a city in Sicily, Italy, in the Province of Syracuse, 32 km southwest of the city of Syracuse, at the feet of the Iblei Mountains. The city gives its name to the surrounding valley, Val di Noto. In 2002 Noto and its church were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the city brought forth several notable intellectual figures, including Giovanni Aurispa, jurists Andrea Barbazio and Antonio Corsetto, as well as the architect Matteo Carnelivari: in 1503 king Ferdinand III gave it the title of civitas ingeniosa ("ingenious city"). In the following centuries, the city expanded enlarging its medieval limits; and new buildings, churches and convents were built. These, however, were all totally destroyed by the earthquake of January 11, 1693. The devastation of the city on Mount Alveria was accompanied by its economy, which relied mainly on agricultural products vine, oil, cereals, rice, cotton and its renowned handicrafts.
The current town, rebuilt after the earthquake on the left bank of River Asinaro, was planned on a grid system by Giovanni Battista Landolina. This new city occupied a position nearer to the Ionian Sea. The presence of architects like Rosario Gagliardi, Francesco Sortino and others, made the new Noto a masterpiece of Sicilian Baroque, dubbed the "Stone Garden" by Cesare Brandi and is currently listed among UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. The new structures are characterized by a soft tufa stone, which under sunlight assumes a typical honey tonality.
The city, which had lost its provincial capital status in 1817, rebelled against the House of Bourbon on May 16, 1860, leaving its gates open to Giuseppe Garibaldi and his expedition. Five months later, on October 21, a plebiscite sealed the annexation of Noto to Piedmont.
In 1844, Noto was named a bishopric seat, but in 1866 suffered the abolition of the religious guilds, which were deeply linked to the city's structures and buildings.
Noto was freed from fascist dictatorship in July 1943. At the referendum of 1946, the Notinesi people voted in favour of the monarchy.