Baroque Splendor in Noto: Seven Rooms Villadorata
Address: Via Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, 53, 96017, Noto (SI)
Originally from Noto but born and raised in Turin, Cristina Summa of Seven Rooms Villadorata feels privileged to live in Noto. “I haven’t gotten used yet to the beauty that surrounds me,” she tells us of her city, even though she has been a resident for the last ten years. Cristina is one of the leaders in developing the territory around Noto in Sicily, despite it being “a land of contradictions.” Her hotel Seven Rooms Villadorata is perhaps the first of these contradictions: luxurious accommodations once belonging to the royal family of the Nicolaci, refashioned in the French style that first inspired it.
The city of Noto was reconstructed following the earthquake that demolished most of the territory around Val di Noto in 1683. Directly following this period, an important mercantile family, the Nicolaci, was becoming more influential in the bourgeois spheres of the city. Having made their fortune in the tuna business and as landowners, they acquired the status of nobility in 1701. As the Barons they now were, they began to build their first palace in the Baroque style, which was to become an important reference point for the structures to be erected in the same territory.
Of the 1730s, the Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata’s façade boasts intricate iron-wrought balustrades supported by the kind of putti and other grotesque figures characteristic of the Sicilian Baroque, while the interior is adorned with intricate frescoes and elegant furnishings of all kinds of brocade. Fashionable and influential in its time, and the reason why Noto is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Palace has a piano nobile that can be visited today. For those seeking to deepen the aristocratic experience, they can stay overnight: the Palazzo houses three floors of the refined Seven Rooms, once the Nicolaci’s family’s private residence, today Cristina’s upscale yet welcoming hotel.
The hotel’s rooms are lyrically named after the seven winds of Sicily, and its courtyard, windows and terraces offer spectacular views of the city. Waking up to the honey-coloured hues of the city tinted in morning sun, with the rustling of a fountain in the courtyard, is undoubtedly the most romantic way to experience Noto. With luxurious linens and blue-gray washes, the Sicilian resort has a French feel to it: in the 18th century, the original owners modeled it on a Château in France.
"Waking up to the honey-coloured hues of the city tinted in morning sun, with the rustling of a fountain in the courtyard, is undoubtedly the most romantic way to experience Noto."
Here, travellers will be treated like kings and queens. Despite the Hotel’s palatial history, the rooms are warm and welcoming, a nod to Cristina’s natural inclination for hospitality. Should a coffee or an artisanal iced cappuccino be desired alongside something sweet, Caffè Sicilia in the city will certainly satisfy. Their cassata and canoli with ricotta – sweets that are Sicilian to the core, lest we forget – are among the best there are.
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