Situated about 10 km inland from the current town of Noto is the old town, originally called Netum or Neetum, but now known as Noto Antica. In 1693 the town was completely destroyed by an earthquake and an eyewitness is quoted as saying (in Italian obviously):
“Then came an earthquake so horrible and ghastly that the soil undulated like the waves of a stormy sea, and mountains danced as if drunk, and the city collapsed in one miserable moment killing more than a thousand people.”
Apart from a little cosmetic reconstruction to the main entrance and tower (to make it safe and to encourage visitors) and a ‘new’ monument in the centre, the site has been left to decay naturally. So much so that there is virtually nothing left to see. Indeed I have to say that I was a little underwhelmed by the ruins (or lack of them) given the apparent size of the original town. However I was very impressed to see the number of wild flowers and butterflies that have taken full advantage of the very peaceful and undisturbed terrain.
We returned via the Cavagrande del Cassibile nature reserve, which boasts the most impressive canyon that I’ve ever seen (having never been to the U.S. Grand Canyon). In previous years, visitors could walk to the bottom and bathe in the natural pools, but a recent fire (in 2014) and subsequent landslide means this option is currently closed.