Lexicon of Sicily, from Naxos to Noto

Sicilian encyclopedia for travel and knowledge

Naxos. The excitement is great, always: whether or not it is the first time you have come to this little peninsula, a clot of lava congealed by the waters, stretching out into the Ionian Sea, between a little stream and the mythical Akesines to the southeast and the magnificent, deep bay to the northeast. Here is Cape Schiso; here is the landing place of Theocles the founder and of the apoikoi from Euboea and of the Cyclops driven with their ships onto these fertile and beautiful lands by a slight easterly wind. Here there was Naxos, the first Greek colony in Sicily: at this precise geographical point in the world, 2700 years ago, there began the great adventure of a people that, in the spare of a few decades, was to create an unparalleled and envied myth and whose cities, for over five hundred years, were to rival, in splendour and beauty, the most splendid and beautiful ones in the homeland.

Nebrodi. Parco Naturale dei Nebrodi was established in 1993. It is made up of the most important and largest wood areas of Sicily (about 50,000 hectares). The best-known arboreal species are Fagus sylvatica (situated in the most southern area of diffusion), Quercus cerris, and Quercus suber. It is also possible to find Quercus ilex, Taxus baccata, Ilex aquifolium and significant lacustrine and rocky environments. Both the verterbrate and the invertebrate fauna are very rich.

Nicosia The town of Nicosia is located in the central province of Enna and is the wild heart of the island. A place to seek refuge and be left alone, even today. This was the case with the Lombardi and Piemontese who arrived there around the 12th century, perhaps on their way back from the Crusades. So untouched has it been by further immigration that the local accent remains distinctly non-Sicilian. There are also traces of the previous tenants, the Arabs and French Normans who helped build the town into an important commercial center. Do check out the cathedral dating from the 1300's and the church of S.Maria Maggiore which was reconstructed from the original dating back to 1200.

Noto. Situated in the south-eastern corner of Sicily, Noto is famous for its Baroque architecture, and since 2002 it has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto'. Generally listed as one of the 'must-see' tourist attractions of this part of Sicily, Noto is a pleasant and attractive little town, with a historic centre that is composed almost entirely of crumbling Baroque palaces, churches and houses. The town's striking architectural coherence is due to the major earthquake that struck Sicily in 1693. The old town of Noto was almost completely destroyed, and it was decided to to reconstruct a splendid new town several miles away. Thus Noto was rebuilt on its present site, carefully designed for functionality and architectural harmony. The principal tourist activity in Noto is simply a wander around the narrow streets, admiring the golden-coloured stone buildings, the fantastical facades and balconies.