After a magnitude (hypothetical) 6.2 foreshock on January 9, 1693, at 9PM on January 11, 1693 the earth shook in southeastern Sicily for what historians say was four minutes. Etna erupted, and a tsunami struck the Ionian coasts of eastern Sicily and the Strait of Messina. We don’t know the exact scope of the earthquake’s power according to today’s Richter scale, but scholars believe it was a very powerful 7.4. The earthquake, which had aftershocks through more than a year and a half later, is considered to have been responsible for about 60,000 deaths.
The entirety of eastern Sicily experienced destruction (Sadly, apropos, equivalent to the size of Puerto Rico.), with the most damage in the Val di Noto, including the city of Catania and the civic centers Ragusa, Siracusa, Noto, Modica, Palazzolo Acreide, Scicli, Caltagirone, and Augusta, to name a few. Reconstruction after the event led to an 18th century architectural rebirth of the region that today we know as the Late Sicilian Baroque, pictured here in the town of Scicli.