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Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto Sicily Italy ...

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The Val di Noto owes its fame to the reconstruction which underwent after the year 1693, when the entire area was decimated by an enormous earthquake. The destruction that the earthquake caused was so enormous that it was decided to rebuild many towns on entirely new sites, such as the towns of Noto and Grammichele. The rulers of the time, the kings of Spain, accounted the Duke of Camastra with special powers, which allowed him to redesign the wounded towns based on rational and scenographic town plans.

In fact, since the beginning of the Renaissance,architects had the dream to build an entirely new ideal city,where town planning follows rational design and street and building are organized by functionality and beauty. However only a very small part of their projects were really used, and most of them were limited to the reorganization of a street,like the Strada Nuova in Florence or the redesign of small villages, like the town of Pienza.

The earthquake gave the architects the chance to carry out those plans on a large scale. these new towns and cities were therefore redesigned according to renaissance and baroque town planning, with streets crossing each other either with a right angle or starting from major urban sites like squares with a radial pattern. Major buildings like churches,cloisters and palaces were built so that to give the streets a focal point and a majestic perspective. Many times these towns had a distinct shape, like the town of Grammichele which is based on a hexagon whose centre is the town square, provided of the parish and town hall.

Another feature is the homogeneity with which these towns were built, as the late baroque style developed in Sicily was extensively used in the rebuilding.

The area's towns were rebuilt in what came to be known as the Sicilian Baroque style; most notable the town of Noto itself, which is now a tourist attraction on account of its fine Baroque architecture.

The ancient town of Akrai (Palazzolo Acreide) was founded in 664 BCE: it was the first colony of the Corinthian settlement at Syracuse. The Syracusans were currently expanding their power over the Sicilian interior. Little recorded the ruined town was rediscovered by the historian Tommaso Fazello at the end of 16th century. Further excavations in the early 19th century by Baron Gabriele Iudica, unearthed important facts concerning the early history of eastern Sicily.

In June 2002, UNESCO inscribed eight old towns of the Val di Noto on the World Heritage List as "representing the culmination and final flowering of Baroque art in Europe" [1]. The listed towns are Caltagirone, Militello in Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa, a
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