Ragusa is located in the heart of Val di Noto, in the south east of Sicily, and is the capital of the southernmost province of Italy. Immersed in a territory rich in natural and architectural beauties to visit, the city rises on the Iblei Mountains and is located next to the course of the Irminio river, whose mouth is part of a natural reserve located between Marina di Ragusa and Donnalucata.
The Baroque architecture, which stands out for its whimsy and the richness of decorative elements on vaults, columns, capitals and facades, constitutes the most widespread artistic style in the Ragusa area, where it flourished following the earthquake of 1693. The importance historical and artistic of the city meant that in 2002 it became part of the UNESCO heritage sites. The earthquake that destroyed the entire south-eastern Sicily in 1693 forced the Ragusans to rebuild their city, giving it a completely new and suggestive face. Ragusa was thus divided into two large districts, Ragusa Superiore and Ragusa Ibla, rebuilt on its previous medieval layout.
Ragusa Superiore, on the other hand, is the most modern part of the city, also called the city of bridges due to the presence of three picturesque bridges that rise over a verdant valley. Cross the city from one end to the Ponte Vecchio, Ponte Nuovo and Ponte Giovanni XXIII (or Ponte San Vito) observing from above the Cava di Santa Domenica, where you can see paths, see ancient stone huts and listen the sound of a stream hidden in the green.
If all this intrigues you and you are a nature lover, you can visit this naturalistic area rich in latomie and typical Mediterranean plants, but we recommend doing so with a local guide or an organized trek.
In 2002 Ragusa became part of the UNESCO world heritage sites, along with other Baroque centers of the Val di Noto. Ragusa Ibla represents the historical center of the city and embodies a treasure of extraordinary richness, which embodies its maximum expression of beauty in the Cathedral of San Giorgio. The wide street that leads to the church is slightly uphill, which is why, through a clever play of perspectives, the cathedral can be admired in all its grandeur, thanks also to the majestic staircase that precedes it.
Of particular charm is the Ibleo Garden, rich in plants typical of the area, inside which there is a terrace overlooking the beautiful valley that surrounds the historic center. From here you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the Iblei Mountains. The maze of stairways, narrow streets, buildings and houses offers panoramic views and truly unique views, especially from the staircase of Santa Maria delle Scale and the former military district of Ibla. From these places you can enjoy breathtaking landscapes, especially at sunset.
The Ibleo Archaeological Museum is located in Ragusa in Via Natalelli on the first floor of the Mediterranean Palace and preserves finds found in the territory of the province of Ragusa, dating from the Neolithic to late antiquity. For more information on rates and opening times, visit the Cultural Heritage website. The archaeological site of Kamarina is one of the most important archaeological areas of Sicily and is located near Scoglitti. The remains of the ancient colony of Kamarina are preserved in the Regional Archaeological Museum of Camarina, adjacent to the site. Finally, the Archaeological Park of Caucana is located along the provincial road that connects Punta Secca to Marina di Ragusa and shows the remains of the late ancient port city of Kaukana.
What to see in the surroundings
The province of Ragusa, located in the south-eastern part of Sicily, offers countless architectural and landscape beauties. Wide beaches of golden sand interspersed with jagged cliffs stretch along the coast. Olive and carob trees surround ancient rural farms bordered by typical “dry” limestone walls. The Baroque cities of the Val di Noto and UNESCO heritage of Modica and Scicli testify to the artistic and cultural value of this province, rich in churches, architectural monuments and archaeological sites. A territory where history, art and tradition contribute to making the Hyblaean area one of the most renowned and appreciated tourist destinations in Sicily.
The province of Ragusa boasts a remarkable artistic and cultural heritage thanks to the value of Baroque architecture. Ispica and Comiso, pearls of the Val di Noto and UNESCO heritage, offer countless monuments, churches and baroque palaces. The Iblean late baroque, peculiar compared to the European baroque, arises from the mastery of skilled local artisans who sculpted the local limestone giving rise to stenographic facades, furious or grinning faces, corbels, putti, masks and balconies with rounded shapes. An exuberant and grotesque architecture that bears witness to the high artistic, historical and cultural value of the Hyblaean territory.
The countryside of Ragusa, rich in dry stone walls, stretches of carob trees, olive trees, almond trees and prickly pears, are an oasis of peace, a place where the typical Sicilian farms are combined with the surrounding natural environment, creating a harmonious and enchanting landscape. The limestone hills offer different rock formations, natural and artificial quarries, archaeological sites and paths to explore by trekking or cycling.
Among the archaeological-naturalistic areas to visit absolutely, we find the Archaeological Park of La Forza, located on the slopes of the hill on which Ispica stands, and Cava d’Ispica, an archaeological and natural area halfway between Ispica and Modica, are two sites which unite the geological and historical peculiarities of the Ragusa area, starting from very ancient times. At about 20 km from Ragusa stands the Castle of Donnafugata, a wonderful nineteenth-century residence unique in its kind, with a rich garden of Mediterranean and exotic plants. It was also chosen as the set of some films, including The Viceroys and Inspector Montalbano.
Treat yourself to some relaxation in the nearby seaside resort of Marina di Ragusa, 20 km from the city. Its promenade, the pier of the marina and its golden sandy beaches are a perfect destination to take a simple walk by the sea or enjoy the sun and the waters of this corner of Sicily. Marina di Ragusa offers many restaurants and bars where you can try fresh fish dishes and a good ice cream. It is an excellent alternative to touring the baroque cities, to enrich your holiday with something different and let yourself be pampered by the mild sea breeze in the spring or sunbathe in summer.