Visit Church of San Carlo Borromeo
The Church of San Carlo is a church on the corner of the Piazza Municipio in the heart of Noto, a town with numerous baroque buildings in the south-east of Sicily
It is somethimes called the Church of San Carlo al Corso, also as the Church of San Carlo Borromeo, and occasionally as the Collegiate Church (because there is a Jesuit monastery next door).
Explore the Church of San Carlo Borromeo in Noto
Italy This Way comment: the church of San Carlo is an interesting baroque church, but there are many others in Noto and the reason we have included it as a separate article is because of the exceptional views from the balcony at the top of the church tower: the views from here might only take a few minutes to appreciate, but are among the best in Noto
You can find the church at the south-west corner of the Piazza Municipio, on Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The church was built in the 18th century in the baroque style: like many of the churches in this part of Sicily, the earlier church had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1693.
The church of San Carlo was designed by an architect from Syracuse called Rosario Gagliardi. He was renowned for his use of the baroque style, although he never actually left Sicily to see earlier examples elsewhere. You wll come across his name in several other towns as you explore south-east Sicily.
The facade of the church is unusual because it is concave, but it still preserves the traditional baroque elements such as columns, pilasters and balustrades.
There are three levels to the facade, which has various decorative windows and arches as well as columns. The columns are Doric style at ground level, Ionic style at the first floor level and Corinthian at the top level - this is a common arrangement, and can even be seen on ancient monuments such as the colosseum in Rome - although on a rather grander scale!
The interior of the Church of San Carlo is very traditional, with a main nave and two side naves separated by columns and arches.
The interior decoration includes many 18th century paintings of biblical stories, and also paintings on the ceiling. The area around the altar and dome has further paintings as well as several statues: the statues next to the altar represent Faith and Hope and the statues below the dome represent the cardinal virtues.
These artworks are perfectly acceptable but quite modest compared to many churches you will visit in Sicily, and the main reason we recommend you visit the Church of San Carlo is because of the tower and the balcony with views across the Piazza Municipio.
The entrance to the tower is on the left as you enter the church (from the outside you would not know there is a tower here). There is a small charge to climb the tower, and it is too narrow for people to go up at the same time as other people come down, so a small amount of waiting might be involved. There are about 80 steps and the admission costs two euros.
At the top of the steps there is quite a large balcony, surrounded by a stone balustrade and various stone objects. There are lovely views in all directions: although the main view is towards Noto cathedral, you can also see across the rooftops of Noto and along Corso Vittorio Emanuel, as well as the upper level of Palazzo Ducezio.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.