One of the ‘little’ towns we explored on our (i.e. me and my awesome boyfriend) own was called Noto. It was one of the 10 medieval towns that was totally flattened in the mid-1600s by a massive earthquake. It was relocated closer to the coast and rebuilt entirely following Baroque city planning principles. Since it had a high number of noble and wealthy families living there, this town is one of the better built towns and had a ridiculous number of Churches per square metre.
All of these churches had a cool little fundraising project, for 2 euros a person, you could climb the tiny winding stairs up to the roof and/or to the top of the bell towers at the top of almost every one!
1. From the Roof of San Carlo.
2. From the old Cloister of Santa Chiara.
It is compulsory for me to enter a church named for my patron saint and namesake. This screen that you can sort-of see through is the old screen with the enclosed order of Poor Clares would sing at Mass and pray the liturgy of the hours. It is a spectacular wooden screen with beautiful curving on it and simple, but beautifully carved decoration. The Church and it’s attached cloister was a hand-me-down from the Benedictine sisters who were given a new church an cloister by one of the noble families in the area.
3. From the top of the bay of Taormina
Taormina is quite a touristy town, but still beautiful and the views are amazing. It is a little medieval town cut into the top of a cliff that sits above a tiny little bay with pretty spectacular coral reefs around. It was a bit of a trek to get there and one afternoon of snorkelling and beginner scuba diving later, the boyfriend and I settled in for an evening on the town. It was only slightly marred by my phone dying and getting very painfully bitten/stung by a mysterious insect.
4. From the temple of Christ the King in Messina
We had a brief and hot poke around Messina. We unfortunately timed things rather poorly as everything was closed for the afternoon. It was the afternoon that we tried our first Granita and had the cheapest lunch (University towns for the win!). It was rather cool however, to be able to see across to Calabria.