City of Ragusa
The territory: The city of Ragusa has more than 65,000 inhabitants; it’s the capital of the province and includes 12 Comuni. It’s the most southern province of Sicily, along with that of Syracuse. The Hyblaean territory covers an area of 1,600 square kilometers, and includes a large area of natural reserves (Natural Reserve Biological Species "Macchia Forest River Irminio", Natural Reserve "Pino d' Aleppo") and an equally wide band coast from Punta Secca, a seaside resort known for being one of the places of Montalbano, the beaches of Marina di Ragusa, Donnalucata, Cava d' Aliga, Sampieri, Marina di Modica, Maganuco, Pozzallo, Santa Maria del Focallo, from Punta Ciriga where you can see the island of Iannuzzo and the micro-archipelago of Porri. The Hyblaean also boasts an important cultural heritage linked to the history and art.
From the historical point of view , the province of Ragusa houses the archaeological area of Kamarina, where you can visit the ruins of the Acropolis, the ancient tombs, the ruins of a temple dedicated to Minerva, but especially the prestigious Archaeological Museum which, through a museum itinerary, you can admire artifacts of immense historical value.
The extraordinary late Baroque architecture of monuments, churches and historic buildings, is for the territory of the province of Ragusa the spearhead of a tourist offer of great cultural value. This is confirmed by the recognition that UNESCO has awarded the city of Ragusa, Modica and Scicli, as a World Heritage Site due to the exclusivity of their monumental architecture, unique in the world.
There are numerous events, festivals, fiestas throughout the year that attract tourists and visitors to the area. Among the main events are reminiscent of the Feast of St. John the Baptist, the saint patron of Ragusa, the Festival of the Street Artists in Ragusa Ibla, Holy Days of Easter, the Chocobarocco in Modica, Pozzallo at the fish festival and many other festivals that enrich each year the program of events in all the municipalities of the province of Ragusa. With regard to food, the ibleo area boasts excellent local products, and is also included in the itinerary Regional Wine Roads.
The main monuments: Before proposing an itinerary of the main monuments of Ragusa, it’s imperative to recall the date of 1865, when the city was divided into two parts, the upper part, the new Ragusa, and the bottom part, Ragusa Ibla, the heart of the Ibla baroque. The two parts are separated by a deep ravine, known as the "Valley of Bridges”, so called because it’s characterized by the presence of three picturesque bridges: the Ponte Pope John XXIII or Ponte San Vito (known as Brand New Bridge); The Capuchin Bridge (known as the Old Bridge) and the New Bridge or Bridge F. Pennavaria (also known as Ponte del Littorio). In the upper part of Ragusa, in Piazza S. Giovanni, is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The church was built between 1706 and 1760. The splendid center prospectus shows on the left St. John the Baptist, in the middle of the Immaculate Conception, St. John the Evangelist on the right. The interior has a Latin cross in pitchstone inlaid with white limestone. In 1858, they built the great organ "Serassi“, with its monumental choir carved and gilded wood. Finally, in 1950, the church became the cathedral. In Via Roma you can admire Palazzo Schininà of Sant’Elia, built at the end the eighteenth by the initiative of Don Mario Schininà Cosentini of the Marquis of St. Elias. Posted on the entrance door is the coat of arms of the Marquis, a lily and a comet surmounted by a crown marquis. In Via San Vito, corner C.so Vittorio Veneto is located in the splendid Palazzo Zacco, built in the second half of the 700 by the Baron Melfi of St. Anthony. Characteristic are the two side balconies supported by brackets depicting grotesque masks and bizarre figures of musicians with trumpets and whistles. In Corso Italia is located Palazzo Bertini, built at the end of 700. The feature of the building is represented by the inputs from which you can admire three masks depicting a beggar, a noble and a man of the East. In Corso Mazzini, is the Church of Santa Maria delle Scale. The original structure of the church dates from the fourteenth century. One particular element that characterizes the interior of the church is the presence of an extraordinary terracotta work of 1538 that depicts the "Transit of the Virgin". In Via Natalelli under the central Via Roma, you can visit the “Museo Archeologico Regionale Ibleo”. The main monuments of Ragusa are certainly churches. This part of the town hosts, in fact, more than fifty. The main ones are : the Cathedral of St. George, located in the central Piazza Duomo, whose construction dates back to 1767 according to the project by Rosario Gagliardi. However, its completion happens in 1820 with the building of neo-classical dome, 43 meters high and supported by 16 columns. The table shows two levels, respectively, the statues of St. George and St. James, at the bottom, and those of St. Peter and St. Paul, at the top. The interior has a Latin cross with three naves, contains valuable paintings and stained glass windows depicting the martyrdom of St. George. In Piazza Pola is the Church of St. Joseph. It was built in the second half of the ‘700 on the initiative of the Sisters of the Monastery of St. Benedict. Inside the church you can admire a beautiful statue of the '600 silver depicting St. Joseph. In Piazza della Repubblica, you can admire the Church Santissime Anime del Purgatorio. The interior, with three naves, separated by Corinthian columns of pitch stone. On the main altar is a large painting representing the "Souls in Purgatory" by Francesco Manno dubbed the "Francescone". On the Ascent Commander, near Cosentini Palace, is the Church of St. Mary. The origins of the church are very old, probably dating from the Byzantine era. A feature of the monument is the emblem of iron placed on the central door, depicting an eagle, the symbol of the cross of the Knights of Malta in the center of the chest. Striking the bell tower, whose octagonal dome is decorated with beautiful colored tiles. In the central Via Roma, at number 116, is the Church of Santa Maria de Jesus dating back to 1500. It is attached to a large monastery built by the Minor Reformed in the seventeenth century. The church has a single nave and is accessible by an ancient staircase finished in 1823. Inside, you can admire several stucco and depictions of saints, as well as a beautiful painting of Our Lady of Lourdes at the Central Chapel. In Via Don Minzoni, there is the Church of St. Philip Blacks. It was built around 1650 by the Confraternity of St. Philip Blacks. Inside there is a single nave and four altars. On the high altar you can admire a painting of St. Filino Blacks. In Via degli Studi n. 56, there is the Church of St. Francis Immaculate. It was built at the end of the 500 in the same place where was built first a Franciscan convent dating back to 1225. Inside, there is the mausoleum of Baron Corrado Arezzo Donnafugata. Outside the fence of the urban city, you can admire the picturesque church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, now deconsecrated. The church was built in the mid- seventeenth century following the discovery of a sacred image of the Madonna and Child, from the population considered a miraculous event. The Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, the St. James Church and the Church of the Capuchins, are located inside the Villa di Ibla, a large garden overlooking the Irminio Valley. Among the Palaces of Ibla, the main ones are: Palazzo La Rocca, located in Via Captain Bocchieri n. 33; Battaglia Palace, Via Orphanage; Sortino Palace - Throne, located in Market Street; Cosentini Palace, located on the Ascent Commander; Palace of the Chancellery, located in Corso MazzinI.
A mandatory stage to be included in the itinerary of the Province of Ragusa is the Castle of Donnafugata, some scenes of the movie set of The Viceroys and Commissioner Montalbano. The Castle, built by Baron Arezzo 800, is located in Contrada Donnafugata, about 15 km from Ragusa. Just some of the 120 rooms are open to visitors. They present themselves with original furniture and furnishings of the period. One of the features of the castle, in addition to the beautiful terrace, is the large park surrounding 8 acres, in which you can admire the circular temple, venue and refreshment of friends, and the particular stone labyrinth with typical drywall typical of our area. On the subject of food and wine tourism, the province of Ragusa has a rich heritage and excellent quality, thanks to the genuineness of typical products related to crops and iblean agriculture.
A bit of history: The city of Ragusa has origins dating back to the twentieth century BC. The cemeteries around the iblean country testify to settlements of the Sicilians and the Greeks of Kamarina. After the Roman conquest in the third century BC, Ragusa was dominated by the Byzantines, who fortified the city for about five centuries. In 848 a severe famine gave advantage for the conquest of the territory by the Arabs. The presence of Arabs in Ragusa promoted the construction of several houses and gave a great impetus to agriculture and throughout the country. In 1061 the Arabs had its end, thanks to the rebellion of the people of Ragusa deployed with the troops of Count Roger, in the conquest of the island. The first count of Ragusa was the Count Geoffrey, son of Roger I. After the conquest of the Normans, Sicily was conquered by Emperor Henry VI in 1194. Ragusa and its territory were incorporated into the public domain. Frederick II, known as stupor mundi and successor of Henry VI granted the town the election of its directors and therefore the privilege to boast of their own coat of arms. In 1266 Ragusa was conquered by the Angevins that a few years after were coat of arms with the revolt of the Sicilian Vespers (1282). After the expulsion of the French, the city of Ragusa became County due to the presence of Spaniards under the power of Peter of Aragon, who took over the Shire, assigning it to John Prefoglio. Around 1296 the County of Ragusa merged with the County of Modica. The Count of Modica, thus became among the most important Italian feudal states, especially under the powerful Count Bernardo Cabrera. One of the most tragic moments in history lived by the iblean population was certainly the 1693 earthquake that claimed the lives of about five thousand people out of thirteen thousand inhabitants. This resulted in the reconstruction of the entire city in the style of an extraordinary baroque that became Unesco World Heritage. In 1848 the cities of Ragusa, Modica and Scicli, rebelled against the Bourbons for the restoration of freedom and independence of the island. In 1860 Ragusa also joined the Kingdom of Italy under the leadership of Senator Baron Corrado Arezzo de Spuches of Donnafugata. In 1927 Ragusa becomes Province.