Porta Real or Arch of Ferdinand II

Orazio Angelici

This commemorative arch was erected in 1838 for the visit of the Bourbon King, Ferdinand II. It marks the entrance to the city and leads into the main street, now called Corso Vittorio Emanuele, on either side of which lie the principal monuments. Although it was built later, Tobriner believes it does not disturb the "tonality of the city" (201). The arch is of course classical--in origin and here has none of the decorative flourishes seen in most of the High Baroque architecture of the rebuilt city.

On the top of the arch three symbols of the people of Noto are emphasized: the tower for strength; the dog for loyalty; and the pelican for self-sacrifice. The last may seem odd, but this tradition goes back at least to the medieval period where in the bestiaries the pelican was thought to feed her young with her own blood by wounding her own breast when no other food was available. According to the official guidebook the pelican represents loyalty to the king. The guidebook also indicates that the dog is a cirneco, an ancient Sicilian breed of dog (50).

Works Consulted or Quoted:
The Baroque Art in Val di Noto [official guidebook] Palermo, n.d.
Grady, Ellen. Sicily [Blue Guide]. New York: Norton, 2006.
Tobriner, Stephen. The Genesis of Noto. London: Zwemmer, 1982.

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© 2012 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.