When baroque meets mediterranean shrubland
The recognition of a specific Sicilian style of Baroque is largely down to a survey by Anthony Blunt in his Sicilian Baroque, which came out in 1968.
The Baroque came to Sicily several decades after it had spread to Rome and other cities. Despite that, several buildings of the early part of the 17th century foreshadow baroque themes in some ways. These examples, while attributable to Late Renaissance and classical architectural forms, possess a characteristic specific to the new style developed in Rome: “the strong sense of theatricality, achieved through experimenting with perspective and scenography on an urban scale.”
The main feature of Baroque architecture in Sicily was a great decorative exuberance, marked by a particular warmth, expressive joy, and freedom.
Around 1730, the Sicilian Baroque gradually began to diverge from the style developed in Rome; and two factors helped establish its uniqueness. First, after the earthquake that had struck the Val di Noto in 1693, the race to rebuild was subsiding, with construction work entering a calmer and more deliberate phase. Second, a new group of Sicilian architects was coming to the fore, adapting their projects to local needs and traditions with an often manically creative style.
One definition of Sicilian Baroque is the following: “whether those viewing it find it charming or repellent, this style is a characteristic demonstration of Sicilian exuberance, and should be counted among the most important and original artistic creations on the island.”