From the northern coast to the south, Sicily always amazes. Many different towns, astonishing landscapes, art and history everywhere. Today our trip with Sicilian Secrets brings us towards the province of Ragusa. Are you ready to leave? Fasten your seat belt!
I am from Palermo and the first time I went to Ragusa it seemed a very long trip. I remember that it took almost four hours, we go through the mountains in the middle of nowhere and in the end, my mother and I got lost. I was just a teenager, so the biggest tragedy was that my phone had no signal for a while.
Well, consider that the province of Ragusa is located in the south-east of the island and is characterized by many fishing villages such as Punta Secca, Marina di Modica and Marina di Ragusa that are colored with the typical shades of the Mediterranean vegetation. Close your eyes and imagine the bright green of olive trees, the scent of citrus fruit, the vines and the taste of almonds. On the other side, Hyblaean Mountains dominates the area: it’s the perfect place for hiking if you love gentle slopes and sharp valleys.
If you ask me “What should I visit once I get there?”, probably I would tell you to enjoy the Baroque of Modica and Palazzolo Acreide, to look at the skyline of Ragusa that is not punctuated by skyscrapers but by the domes and towers of several churches. And of course, you cannot miss the beach of Punta Secca and Ispica, the Scicli and Cava Ispica.
It sounds a lot, so let’s start this journey together…first stop, Ragusa.
From the top of a limestone hill and between two deep valleys, it is the queen of the district. Its history dates back to the 2nd millennium BC: Sicels, Greeks and then Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans.
The city consists in two areas: Ragusa Ibla (the old town) and the upper town aka Ragusa Superiore.
…means Baroque. It includes several stunning palaces and churches such as the Cathedral of San Giorgio and Santa Maria delle Scale that is particularly interesting. Why? It was seriously damaged in the earthquake of 1693 and half of this church was rebuilt in Baroque style instead of the original Gothic style that characterizes the surviving half.
And then there’s the Church of Santa Maria dell’Itria, built by the Knights of Malta in the XVII century, with a campanile with ceramics from Caltagirone and a canvas attributed to the famous Italian painter Mattia Preti.
Don’t miss the Hyblean Garden and the archeological area, here is the heart of the town.
In 1693 a strong earthquake devastated the city that of course was largely rebuilt. Fortunately, even several baroque buildings survived but many people decided to move to a new settlement that was called Upper Ragusa (Ragusa Superiore).
Nowadays, once you get there, you can visit the Cathedral of Ragusa dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and be enchanted by the façade in typical southern Sicilian Baroque style, with three portals and sculptures representing Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.
If history is your passion, the Hyblean Archaeological Museum is waiting for you. Let me find a word to describe it…awesome! Thanks to the large amount of archaeological finds you will discover a lot from the Prehistoric to the Late Roman era.
TO BE CONTINUED…
I’m sure that you’d like to know other stories about the province of Ragusa, so stay tuned and keep on travelling with Sicilian Secrets!
If you want to get further information, read more on Dimensione Sicilia and book your trip.