1693. That’s the year that matters around here. An earthquake then shredded the Noto Valley, in Sicily’s southeast, destroying towns and villages. From the ashes, towns of baroque splendour emerged, home to stupendous cathedrals and arresting residences. Discovering these towns is a luxurious treat. Ragusa’s vast, ornate cathedral of San Giorgio is a bea
utiful wedding cake of a building, the streets around it a romantic idyll of photogenically-crumbling houses in refined little streets. Here and there remnants of the older town are also evident. Nearby hilltop Noto is one of Sicily’s most beautiful towns. Standing in the town’s main square is like walking the pages of a baroque photo-book. There’s the golden cathedral In front of you, and next to it the Bishop’s Palace. Behind you the colonnaded town hall squats, and amongst these buildings is a raft of splendid, aristocratic palazzos.