With four nights in Siracusa, I wanted to make sure we did at least one day trip. I decided on taking a day trip to Noto, since it was the closest of the towns I was considering (I also looked into Ragusa and Modica). With a travel time of 30 minutes by train, it was too easy to pass up. Caffe Sicilia, a popular bar in the middle of town, also helped to get it across the line as I wanted to try their famous granita.
Travelling from Siracusa to Noto
For me, a day trip usually means an early start to the day, but with the earliest train to Noto departing Siracusa at 10:30am, there was no manic rush first thing in the morning. I’m obviously slowing down in my old age! There’s an option of taking a very early bus, but a mid-morning train seemed to be the perfect choice.
To break up the walk to the station, we stopped to get my daily cappuccino at one of the many cafes along Corso Umberto 1. Jarrad told me he wanted to have his first ever espresso. I suggested a espresso macchiato instead as an easing into coffee. But no, he wanted something he could easily “shoot” to “get it over with”! For someone who loves to enjoy her coffee, this hurt my brain, but at least he was giving it a go. The cafe was quite modern and could easily be in Melbourne or Perth. I had fun sitting at a cafe reading the newspaper like I do at home, but this one was in Italian!
Arriving at the station nice and early to buy tickets, we were first to board the tiny three car train. It continues onto Ragusa and Modica and seemed to be a train that would have been used further north in the country about 50 years ago! While fine for the short trip, I don’t know if I’d want to be spending multiple hours on these trains!
As we were boarding, I recalled that there are people on Tripadvisor forums wanting to see Noto, Ragusa and Modica on the same day. I can’t even imaging trying to fit all that in. And that doesn’t even consider the travel time from Siracusa to Ragusa takes about 3 hours one way! I was very happy to keep it simple and visit only the closest of the three.
The train had lots of empty seats and at 3.80 euros each, was an absolute bargain.
Arriving in Noto
About 30 minutes later, we hopped off the train at a tiny, unmanned station. Don’t expect to find a tourist station and lots of information. Fortunately, the walk up to the old part of town was about 15 minutes up a slight incline and all you need to do is follow the crowd snaking up the hill. At 11am, the permanent market stalls in the park at the top of the hill were about half full.
From the markets, the town’s main Corso is easy to find. Walking through the the park, we came across a giant arch signalling the beginning of the main drag.
A small town with too many beautiful buildings to count
For being a UNESCO heritage town and an easy day trip from Siracusa, Noto didn’t feel overwhelmingly touristy like some places I’ve visited in Italy (I’m looking at you San Gimignano!). Along the stroll, we passed a few very pretty buildings, including the Cathedral, the Palazzo Ducezeio and many other baroque style churches.
Follow the drums!
Sometimes you forget where you are and then you come across what seems to be an impromptu parade or celebration in the street and then you know you’re in Italy! On the day we visited we came across a large group of people dressed in traditional dress, drummers drumming and lots of street dancing. The drums were so loud, we had to stop and have a look to see what was going on. Too bad we couldn’t figure it out!
Flower Street Art
One of Noto’s annual events is the Infiorata di Noto. During the festival in May, one of its streets is fully decorated in flower art. The street, called via Nicolaci, wasn’t decorated when we visited, but on the next street over there were a bunch of school kids decorating the first part of the street in flowers, seeds and beans. I especially appreciated the Marvel heros sections with spiderman, captain america’s shield and a batman signal. They were working hard and it was quite impressive. I’d like to come back to see the main event later in May.
Coffee Break at Caffe Sicilia
One of the reasons I wanted to visit Noto was to visit a cafe called Caffe Sicilia. I’d first read about it on Tripadvisor and then watched the Chef’s Table episode on Netflix about the owner and the history of the bar.
They have a few specialties including an almond granita. I was originally picturing an almond milk version of a slushy, but the ice is crushed super fine and the almond milk is made from local almonds. Pour an espresso shot over the top, and I’m in heaven!
I also had to try one of the many cakes which also had coffee flavour. Jarrad had a gelato and we found a table outside in the shade (a very hot commodity on the day we visited!). It was perfect sitting there eating my granita, watching people strolling by.
Alas it was time to move on and we came upon a lady sitting outside an old narrow and short door with a dog laying along the front step. She was an artist and she was using a small building that had a pathway around old greek or roman ruins as an art gallery. It was free to wander so I had to have a look. I can’t picture a more scenic gallery than that! The dog was very friendly and didn’t move as I stepped over him.
It was getting close to train time (the next train was at 2:50pm), so we returned to the markets outside the main gate. While there were lots of goodies for sale, one stall was selling beer and light lunches as well as having wifi. Perfetto! After a couple beers it was back downhill to the station to catch our ride back to Siracusa.
Returning to Siracusa
Since the station’s not manned and we didn’t have a return ticket, we bought tickets from the train attendant at the same price as the ticket machines back in Siracusa. 30 minutes later and we were back to the relative hustle and bustle of Siracusa. For us, a day trip to Noto was a great way to see another town without having an exhausting day out of Siracusa.
Have you visited Noto or the surrounding area? Tell me about your trip in the comments!