B&B Terrazza dei Sogni - Ragusa Ibla
Ragusa occupies the south east part of Sicily and it is the southest province of Italy. Ragusa is also part of the Val di Noto.
The city is immersed in the green of nature on what is called the "Ragusano Plateau" due to the irregular formation of the ground, disconnected from deep canyons.
Ragusa’s province occupy just a small part of Sicily, which is the biggest island of the Mediterranean sea. Plenty of legends, history and ancient civilizations, Ragusa, is defined by artists, economists and literatus “the island in the island” due to his different economy structure. However, the origins of Ragusa are connected to the whole island, for mythologies and legends, that have left indelible signs in the architecture and culture of the territory.
-First establishments are in the 20th century b.c. by “the Sicani” and in a larger scale “ the Siculi”. From these ancient habitants there are significant marks, like the necropolis around Ragusa. A group of tombs, dug in the rock, are seen under Santa Maria delle Scale church; while others can be seen from the Giardino Ibleo.
-Real first colonizers are the Greek in the 8th century b.c.. Although they started trading with the Siculi of Hybla, they respected their autonomy, giving them the nickname of “Audax” (audacious) that have been able to maintain his independency until the half of the 3rd century b.c.
-Under the Roman domination, Ragusa and Modica did not have a flourishing period because they were obliged to pay one tenth of the harvest to Rome.
- Afterwards: Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Swabians and Angevins left some trails in this extraordinary land. Arabs in less than 200 years gave a magnificent help to the Sicilian agriculture, bringing new cultivation techniques. But, Angevins, have not been welcomed and actually they have been banished with the famous “Sicilian Vespers”.
- Ragusa, together with Modica, turn to be a unique Shire in 1296 thanks to the marriage between Manfredi I Chiaramonte and Isabella Mosca daughter of Modica’s Earl. With Manfredi III Chiaramonte, the Shire reaches the maximum splendor, delighting of an independent administration from the central govern of Palermo, Nobody had the straight to command, but only the Earl. The Shire of Modica, becomes one the most important feudal State, specially under the command of Bernardo Cabrera.
Ragusa, after the catastrophic earthquake of 1693, that damaged all Val di Noto killing 60.000 people, where of 5.000 in Ragusa, (9.000 habitant at that time) has been reconstructed.
Part of the population, more conservative and tied to their traditions, leaded by nobles, decided to reconstruct the city on the ancient site, which is Ibla. On the other hand, bourgeois and entrepreneurs, built the city in a new location, upper Ragusa.
Immediately, baroque churches and palaces started to born with their protuberant and decorated balconies, sculpted by local masters with the intend to impress people passing by.
All the masterpieces of Val di Noto, rebuilt after the earthquake, have been declared in 2002 patrimony of the humanity of UNESCO and Ragusa represent one of the most important city for the baroque art.
Located in the south-eastern part of Sicily, the province of Ragusa faced the coasts of Lybia and Tunisia. Often called from artists and literatus “ the other Sicily” due to the upper class that distinguished it from the rest of the island. It is also “terra iblea” and “ Patrimony of Humanity” recognized by UNESCO for the ancient rural traditions that are still alive in this land.
Ragusa, like Modica, is basicly divided in two parts which are: Ragusa Ibla, located in the south, is the oldest quarter and it is known for his old history. Upper Ragusa defined “new” has been built only after the earthquake of 1693 for the desire of bourgeois and entrepreneurs.
Duomo San Giorgio: Piazza Duomo, is dominated by one of the most suggestive scenery of the Sicilian baroque: The Duomo San Giorgio stands above the square thanks to the staircase that makes it taller. Built after the terrible earthquake of 1693 (between 1739 and 1775) on the ruins of the old San Nicola’s church, by the architect from the near Noto, Rosario Gagliardi. The structure present a picturesque façade characterized from two groups of three columns, adorned with statues and baroque decorations.
At the back of the façade, is impossible not to admire the extraordinary Dame (43m tall), inspired by the Pantheon of Paris, supported by 16 neoclassic columns. Built only in the 1820.
The inside, composed with three naves, is divided by pillars with corinthian capitals, illuminated from huge windows, in which are represented the thirteen episodes of the Saint’ torture.
Piazza Pola: going up for Corso XXV Aprile, we arrive at Piazza Pola where there is San Giuseppe’s church, built in 1756 for want of nuns “benedettine”, in a splendid baroque style. The façade remind San Giorgio, surely the project is made by school of Gagliardi.
Giardino Ibleo: is a mix of Italian and English style. Inside of it there are three different churches:
San Domenico, erected in 1569 and rebuild after the earthquake of the 1693, today needs to be renovated.
San Giacomo, with three naves in the past, today present just a unique nave, rebuilt in a baroque style, after the tragic seism. Inside, the woody ceiling is from the 18th century and, on the presbytery, a Crucifix of the 17th century by Spanish school.
Chiesa dei Cappuccini, reconstructed after the earthquake of 1693, inside preserve a triptyque of Pietro Novelli with “Assunta, Sant’ Agata and Sant’ Agnese”. The last one is recognized, as the most important painting of the province.
If you have a walk inside the Giardino Ibleo is possible to admire the spectacular hills that surround this place.
Portale San Giorgio: located beside the main gate of giardino ibleo, there is a unique survivor from the earthquake of the 1693, that damaged all Val di Noto: the antique “Portale” San Giorgio from the original church of San Giorgio. This church described as a place of reverence, proudly showed one of the tallest bell tower of Europe (100m). Most probably, the Gate was the left access of the church. Luckily today, is still possible to admire the splendid acute arch in a perfect gotic-catalan style, decorated with the Saint riding a horse killing a dragon. On the top of the arch, by the side, is possible to see the symbol of Ragusa: the eagle.
Chiesa Santa Maria dell’Idria: going up through “scalinata commendatore” there is Santa Maria dell’Idra’s church built between the 15th and 16th century. Firstly, this church had been dedicated to San Giuliano and was rebuilt twice: before and after the catastrophic earthquake. The most beautiful part of the church, most probably, is the octagonal dame, enriched of decorated majolica with typical Sicilian colors.
Chiesa Santissime anime del Purgatorio: this Church might remind the Duomo San Giorgio, perhaps for his large staircase that makes it taller. The bell tower, is slightly separated from the church and his foundation grows on the ancient byzantine walls.
Inside are preserved some remarkable paintings: Anime Purganti by Francesco Manno, La Madonna del Rosario by Antonino Manno, La Sacra Famiglia by Tommaso Pollaci.
Around Ragusa Ibla
Lots are the narrow streets and paths that cross this wonderful and characteristic town. Walk through those, it looks like to get back in the past when the baroque style commanded. Therefore, many building are worth to visit:
Circolo di Conversazione: built in 1850 by the local aristocracy, in a neo-classic style, this building had the purpose to gather wealthy people to converse undisturbed from the “common” habitants.
Palazzo Cosentini: was built at the end of the 1700 for will of Raffaele Cosentini, baron of that time. Spectacular balconies stand out in this building, characterized by astonishing masks with the intent to astound people passing by, as the tradition of the time wanted.
Palazzo Sortino-Trono: was built up for the initiative of Don Ignazio Sortino-Trono, in 1778, on the foundation of any family’s houses and, probably, on the walls of the old castle. The huge façade dominate “piazza degli archi”. Accessible only through a steep path, starting from Via del Mercato.
Palazzo Nicastro: the current construction was built in 1760 for will of Nicastro’s family. Last century the noble residence was changed in chancellor’s office. Afterword into a school. Despite the inside is not well preserved the façade is still intact.
Palazzo Battaglia: is easy to distinguish his monumental prospect and the accurate decorations. Most probably the architect was Gagliardi.
Built in 1724 financed by the baron of Torrevecchia, Grandonio Battaglia.
The two floor of the principal facade, are divided by a simple row of stones. At the ground floor, there is a majestic gate and on the sides two big windows with the same style. On the first floor, is possible to admire, three decorated balconies, in which are represented the emblems of the family Battaglia and Giampiccolo.
Palazzo La Rocca: this old construction is erected since Normans occupied Ragusa. However, in 1765, was rebuilt by La Rocca’s family, baron of S. Ippolito. Nowadays is still possible to see some of the rests of the antique wall. This palace has a characteristic ogival arch, located in the basement.
The prospect is count seven balconies supported by three big “mensoloni” made of typical “pietra pece ragusana”. There are also spectacular representation like: the flutist, the lute player and a mother holding a baby.
Chiesa San Giovanni Battista: before the terrible earthquake of the 1693, San Giovanni Battista’s church was located in the west part of the old city. Hardly damaged by the seism, the church was rebuilt in the city centre of the upper part of Ragusa. The structure was completed in just four months. However, few years later, thanks to development of the “new Ragusa”, the church was expanded by the work of Giuseppe Recupero and Giovanni Arcidiacono both from Acireale.
The prospect is majestic, enriched with carvings and sculptures. Wide decorated columns divide it in five parts where there are also three big gates. On the left side of the cathedral stands the bell tower, 50m tall.
The inside has the shape of a latin cross and present three naves supported by many columns. The vaults of the naves, today are decorated with a rococo style by the brothers Giuseppe and Gioacchino Gianforma from Palermo.
On the intersection between the transept and the central nave, is erected the dame, built only in the 1783.
Archeological museum: divided in 5 different parts:
Section 1 prehistoric stations
Section 2 Greek in the province of Camarina
Section 3 Ancient Sicilian. Monte Casasia, Licodia Eubea, Castiglione e Hybla.
Section 4 Hellenic centre. Scornavacche
Section 5 Roman establishment. Kaukana
The briges: one of the characteristic of Ragusa is that has been built on three separate hills divided from two deep valley: Vallata Santa Dominica and Vallata San Leonardo. From the city centre of upper Ragusa, looking toward Vallata Santa Dominica, is possible to admire the three different briges that cross the city, connecting Ragusa of the 18th century with the one of the 20th. The bridge in the middle, called ponte vecchio (old bridge), was built in 1835 due to the interest of Father Occhipinti Scopetta. By now is open only to the pedestrian traffic.
Ponte nuovo (new bridge), is the extension of Via Roma(1937), which is one o the main street of the city. The third bridge “the newest” called San Vito, is located lower than the others (1964).
Around Ragusa Superiore
Starting from Piazza San Giovanni, just beside, at Corso Italia there is Collegio di Maria: built in 1796. Inside, are preserved paintings by Tommaso Pollaci. Walking down Corso Italia, is pleanty of baroque buildings from the 1700, like Palazzo Lupis: which stands out for his gorgeous decorated “mensoloni”. At Piazza Matteotti, on the right side there is the Town Hall constructed in 1880 and expanded in 1929. On the left side the central post. Turning to San Vito bride crossing Corso Vittorio Veneto, there is Palazzo Zacco: remarkable for his magnificent “mensoloni” adorned in a perfect baroque style. Going back to Corso Italia, direction Ibla we find Palazzo Bertini: decorated one more time in a baroque style. Astonishing are the three masks situated on the vault of the window. They represent people of ordinary life of that time: a mendicant, a merchant and noble. This building is often used for film set.
From here, Corso Italia becomes Via XXIV Maggio and a spectacular itinerary, thirty minutes long, begins, bringing you to Ragusa Ibla through tunnels, narrow paths and above all steps! Easily is possible to find some breath-taking spots where to take unforgettable pictures of Ragusa Ibla.