A plot of baroque laces clinging to a limestone hill and alla round the intense and wild greenery of the Iblei Mountains.
In spring, at first glance, Ragusa Ibla, the original nucleus of Ragusa, an important city in the south-east of Sicily, shows itself this way. It’s surrounded by a territory where nature still plays a leading role.
As the town comes closer, hairpin after hairpin bends on the steep state road that reaches it, the gaze captures the dense theory of domes and bell towers, ancient buildings with bellied balconies and sumptuous portals, endless staircases, gardens with an arabesque feature, small houses one on top of the other and a warm light, strong and soft at the same, that plays between all that bandages of architectures, turning it in a stunning theatre stage.
IBLA and UPPER RAGUSA
It should be noticed that Ragusa , pearl of Val di Noto recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2002, in divided in two sectors: Ibla, destroyed by the earthquake in 1693 and rebuilt in baroque style on the original medieval site. And Upper Ragusa, built on the west hill after the terrible event, according to a urban scheme closer to the present days.
Walking through the various floors of this hilly town, strolling through alleys and narrow streets, climbing stairs and panoramic points, Ibla really gives you the feeling of participating in a great baroque party animated by churches and stately palaces, whose curvi balconies in wrought iron make us think to the ample clothes of noblewomen in other times.
BETWEEN PALACES AND CHURCHES
The tour of historical buildings is a must of course! Several palaces are private or accessible by a guided tour, such as Palazzo Arezzo di Trifiletti, where the same owners will guide you across halls and masterpieces.
Other buildings are open to the public and can be visited free of charge such as Palazzo La Rocca, a faithful showcase of what the lifestyle of the wealthiest classes in the 18th century was. The mysterious allegories that shape the shelves of the balconies give the façade something irresistible and intriguing, inviting you to enter the monumental portal and find yourself in front of a beautiful staircase made in pitch stone, built on the structure of an original medieval tower.
The main floor is like a big Chinese box, the rooms open one inside the other and are marked by frescoed vaults, floors inlaid with majolica bells, tapestries, wall paintings, late baroque decorations and a beautiful blue chandelier in Murano glass.
And it’s not over, because the great view of the surroundings also helps to make this place unique with its valleys, moved by the so-called quarries, the characteristic canyons inside the Iblei Mountains, ideal to visit in spring, when the wild orchids bloom.
The churches are no less, of course and they dot, silent and sumptuous, the main promenade (piazza Repubblica, via del Mercato, via Capitano Bocchieri, piazza Duomo, via XXV Aprile until the magnificent Iblei Gardens) as much as the surroundings.
Above all of them, St. George cathedral lies high on the staircase that dominates the square below. It’s considered one of the greatest expression of baroque sacred architecture, with its sumptuous façade and the interiors full of light and elegance, with the beautiful wooden statue of Saint George killing the dragon. Every year, at the end of May, on the patron saint’s day, the statue is paraded in great pomp through the streets of the city.
MOVIDA & GREEN RELAX
In this season, Ibla is very lively. Streets and squares see a nourished but relaxed away go of residents and tourists, who like to indulge in the small rituals of everyday life: coffee and two chats at the bar in the middle of the morning; aperitif or a very fragrant pomegranate granite when the heat starts to be felt; a good ice cream with the taste of carob, citrus, Passito wine from Pantelleria or olive oil (we are in a land of great, authentic flavours!) and a well-deserved relax under the cool branches of the Iblei Gardens, at the eastern end of the city, as tall as an eagle’s nest on the surrounding valleys, moved by statues, ficus, palms and other luxuriant plants.
In Ragusa Ibla, there’s no time to be boared. After visiting the monuments, sifted shops and artistic ateliers, you can try interesting and engaging experiences. For example:
- participating in a typical kitchen course at the historical Mulino La Timpa, learning from wise hands to make fresh pasta, arancini and the traditional ‘Scacces’, full pizza breads of vegetables, cheeses or meats.
- Learning how to taste the oil extravergine from the olives at the firm Crushers Cutrera in Chiaramonte Gulfi;
- taking part to a laboratory of the taste on the Sicilian cheeses at the Consortium CoRFiLaC, in Ragusa Mare;
- visiting the Roads of Cerasuolo Wine in Victoria village;
- trying an excursion in quad or renting a mountain-bike at the association Girotanto:
- If you travel with children and you desire an amusing and informal approach to the city, useful also to have a complete vision of it, you can take advantage of Trenino Barocco, one of the stops is in front of the St. George cathedral.
TRIED FOR YOU
A’ Rusticana – A traditional restaurant, with summer dehor in perfect sicilian style: red velvets, floors in maiolica, mise en place unexceptionable and good kitchen of the territory.
Antares – Restaurant pizzeria located in an ancient stable in stone with inside elegant and a perfect service; pizzas are very good; to try, appetizers as tortino of eggplants with heart of ricotta and an uproarious squid with orange.
La Terrazza dell’Orologio – A great view on the Ibla roofs and a high-level kitchen for this beautiful restaurant drawn in the stores of the ancient castle. Chef Luciano comes to meet you to the table and recommends the dishes according to your tastes.
Guesthouses and B&B
The Garden on the Roof – On the last floor, the garden on the roof is a small oasis of peace and relax, the ideal place to idle about or to socialize. The rooms are very well organized and comfortable; breakfast is excellent with seasonal products of the territory.
The House of Matilde – In the heart of Ibla, resulted of a careful restructuring of a typical house of beginnings 900, this b&b offers rooms prepared with good taste, terrace panning and a common kitchen.
Black Pitch – A few steps from the St. George cathedral, inside an ancient and tipycal building, this guesthouse offers new and elegant rooms, great care in the details and impeccable service.