Corso Vittorio Emanuele ends with a square called Piazza XVI Maggio. Dominated by the elegant convex façade of the church of San Domenico, the square encloses the “Villetta” with the eighteenth-century Fountain of Hercules and the nineteenth-century theater Vittorio Emanuele III. The most striking feature on the square is Gagliardi’s elegant convex façade for the Chiesa di San Domenico designed with an emphatic use of line and boldly contained by two tiers of colunms separated by a high cornice. The interior, predominantly white and encrusted with stucco, is graced with polychrome marble altars.
In front of the church lies the delightful Villetta d’Ercole, a public garden with a 1700’s fountain in the centre named after Hercules. The fountain represents the rest of the hero after killing the Nemean lion. Hercules is represented while blowing into a shell and holding a shield with the insignia of the city of Noto. On the sides of the fountain there are two busts dedicated to notorius figures of the nineteenth in Noto: on the right a marble statue of the poetess Mariannina Coffa; on the left the bronze statue of Matthew Raeli, Minister during the government Lanza; the first is a work by Carlo Nicoli from Carrara, the second by Savier Sortini from Noto. All this space (Villa Hercules and Piazza XVI Maggio) in the past was used by sellers to put the stalls during market days. The market was later transferred to the via Rocco Pirri, opposite the church of the Crociferi, a place that is used today for exhibitions of paintings and photographs.