The Baroque cities of Sicily

Learn about the Baroque cities of Sicily and its attempts to rebuild itself after a devastating earthquake in the 17th Century.

The Baroque cities of Sicily
Written by Ian Cross, edited by Kaz Bosali


In 1693 a mighty earthquake flattened many communities in the south east of Sicily. At the time Baroque architecture was the fashion in Europe and over the next few decades several Sicilian towns were rebuilt in the Baroque image.


The result today are eight world heritage towns. Among them are Noto, Ragusa, Modica, and Scicli which exist in perfect and grand baroque style on their original sites or  just a few kilometres away.


Here churches and palaces have been created in a wildly theatrical style, characterised by the fantasy and ornamention influenced by the Baroque movement which took off in Catholic Italy after the Renaissance in response to the austere architectural styles of the Protestant Reformation.


In Noto, the Spanish Sicilian aristocrat, Guiseppe Lanza, the Duke of Camastra, oversaw much of the works and engaged top architects, planners and master craftsmen such as Rosario Gagliardi, to do the job. Together they achieved one of the world’s most successful post earthquake city recreations.


The Palazzo Castellucicio was built almost one hundred years later by the Marquis di Lorenzo  del Castellucicio, one of the city’s oldest families. Well prepared frescoes on the ceiling and walls and the original Sicilian ceramic floors remain to this day.


Even the horses had elaborately tiled stalls and feeding troughs in their stables.


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