Ancient Noto: the Pompei of Sicily
Many have heard of the unique beauty of Noto, the undisputed pearl of the Sicilian Baroque, but few know that, before the reconstruction of the city, there was another Noto. What we know now is Noto rebuilt in the 18th century after the terrible earthquake of 1693, but what was it like before?
It is described as the Pompeii of Sicily. Rubble, rocks and ruins can occasionally be found in the deep undergrowth that has long since taken over and covered this atmospheric lost city.
The ancient writings call it Netum, an ingenious city built on the crest of Mount Alveria, a hill inhabited since prehistoric times, as evidenced by the numerous necropolises discovered in the surroundings. Around 448 BC. C. Ducezio, king of Sicily, moved Noto from the Mendola hills to Mount Alveria to protect his hometown from Greek incursions.
The ancient city was enclosed between two narrow gorges which made the place easier to protect. Today, a few sections of the eastern walls of the city and the remains of the ancient portal are visible, as well as the ruins of the castle.
Through the "Porta Aurea" you can walk along ancient roads, once crowded with busy people and now lost in a luxuriant nature and marked here and there by other ruins. Recently excavations have brought to light curious and very interesting elements, such as the ancient prisons of the castle with numerous petroglyphs made by their prisoners
Monte Alveria is today a place rich in historical and archaeological evidence from different eras: Sicilian necropolises, but also Hellenistic ones, pre-Christian, Jewish, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Renaissance and Baroque ruins. The whole area has become a very important archaeological site and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.