Val di Noto (English: Province of Noto) is a geographical area of south east Sicily; it is dominated by the limestoneIbleanplateau.
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. Following the earthquake, many towns were rebuilt on entirely new sites, such as Noto and Grammichele. The rulers of the time, the kings of Spain, accounted the nobleman Giuseppe Lanza with special powers, which allowed him to redesign the damaged 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 streets and buildings 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 in a right angle or starting from major urban sites like squares with a radial pattern. Major buildings like churches, cloisters and palaces were built in order to give the streets a focal point and a majestic perspective. Many of these towns had a distinct shape, like the town of Grammichele which is based on a hexagon whose centre is the town square, consisting of the parish and town hall.