Ragusa is the capital of the province of the same name. The city really consists of two parts, of which the old town, known as Ragusa Ibla, is the more interesting for tourists. Ragusa Superiore was constructed after an earthquake had destroyed Ibla in 1693. In 2002, Ibla became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ragusa travel guide
Tourist information: Ragusa Superiore and Ragusa Ibla each have their own tourist office. The addresses are Piazza San Giovanni (Phone: +39 0932 676550) for the new town and Piazza Repubblica (Phone: +39 366 8742621) for Ibla. Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 09:00 till 19:00.
Ragusa tourist tax: The city has a tourist tax. The price depends on the kind of accommodation you have chosen and ranges from 2,50 Euros (5 star hotels) to 0,50 Euros (youth hostels) per night, for a maximum of 7 nights. Children younger than 12 are exempt.
Town hall: Corso Italia, 72 – Ragusa. Phone: +39 0932 676111.
Railway station: Ragusa has its own railway station, at the Piazza del Popolo. There are direct trains from Syracuse, Caltanissetta, Catania and Gela.
Ibla and Ragusa Superiore are separated by a valley. On way to cross this valley is by a rather steep, winding road. You can also follow a walking path with many steps and beautiful views of the surrounding cliffs.
The Corso Italia is the main street of Ragusa Superiore. The main attraction in this part of the city is the Cathedral of San Giovanni, which was constructed in the 18th century. The interior is characterized by the stucco decorations of the dome.
The other main attractions is the Regional Archaeological Museum. The collection of this museum consists mainly of artifacts from ancient Greek and Roman settlements on the city territory. The main part is dedicated to ruins of the Greek city of Kamarina.
You can take a bus from Ragusa Superiore to Obla, but it is way more interesting to take the steps of the Via delle Scale and enjoy the panoramic views.
You will be struck by the decaying state of many buildings in the narrow streets, but somehow this is also what makes the historical center so interesting.
Iblea has its own Cathedral, which is dedicated to San Giorgio. The present version of this baroque church has a neo-classical dome. The facade is lavishly decorated, while the interior is quite sober. Its main artworks are some Vito d’Anna paintings.
Around the corner, you will find the Church of San Giuseppe, with a rather more interesting interior.
The Santa Maria delle Scale Church was constructed in the 14th century.
The biggest and best known garden of the city is the Giardino Obleo. The oldest part of this garden contains a number of religious buildings. From the edge of the garden you will have a beatiful view over the valley below.
The 14th century Chiesa di San Giacomo still bears signs of the damage afflicted by the earthquake of 1693.
The Chiesa dei Cappuccini contains paintings by Pietro Novelli.
Other churches are the San Giorgio Vecchio Church (15th century), the Madonna dell’Idra Church with a 17th century portal and the Chiesa del Purgatorio (18th century).
Historical buildings include the Palazzo Bertini, the Palazzo Casentini and the Palazzo Lupis (all 18th century).
A brief history of Ragusa
The first settlement of what was to become Ragusa was founded in 1350 BC. The people responsible for this foundation was a tribe called the Siculians. Their city was built on the ruins of Ibla Heraea.
At some point or other, ancient Ragusa was invaded by almost every Mediterranean power, including the Greeks, the Romans and the Arabs. The latter ended up being driven out by the Normans.
The first feudal lord of Ragusa was Goffredo, son of Roger the Norman.
In 1282, Modica and Ragusa were bureaucratically united by Manfredi Chiaramonte.
A first earthquake struck in 1542. However, the one in 1693 was the earthquake deciding the city’s future. It destroyed most of Ibla and, as a result, Ragusa Superiore was built higher up the hill.
From then on, the two cities developed separately. It was not until 1926, that they became one single municipality.
It is quite usual for Italian cities to have been founded on top of a hill. Therefore, the more modern parts of the city are usually on lower grounds. In Ragusa, however, the new town is in the Superiore part of the city, while medieval Ibla is further down.
How to get to Ragusa by car
The E45 leads to Modica, Noto, Syracuse and Gela. The SS194 leads as far as Lentini, from where you can take the E45 to Catania.