Ragusa is a top destination in Sicily! Let’s find out what to see in Ragusa Superiore and surroundings. Nature, Baroque Style, food & wine in Southern Italy!
If you are planning a trip to Sicily and have always wondered what to see in this amazing island, you are in the right place! Today we tell you why to visit Ragusa Superiore, Ragusa Ibla and surroundings.
The adventures of Inspector Montalbano, a television series based on the novels of Andrea Camilleri, showed the beauties of this corner of Sicily located in the southeast part of the island to the general public. Inspector Montalbano filming locations are now popular destinations for travellers and film-lovers.
Immersed in the Val di Noto, this town is rich in natural and architectural beauties.
In 2002 it was declared, together with the surrounding area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its magnificent Baroque style.
Ragusa is located in the Hyblaean Mountains and bordered by the Irminio River. The city offers a real journey through time in the Baroque age thanks to the multitude of churches, palaces and gardens with breathtaking viewpoints.
The historic centre deserves a visit as well as the surroundings, which are home to two nature reserves: the Fiume Irmino Nature Reserve and the Pino D’Aleppo Nature Reserve.
For a journey dedicated to the open air, beauties of the Mediterranean maquis, beaches and historic architecture, Ragusa is the perfect place.
In all this I have not yet mentioned the culinary traditions that this area offers and that will make you want to never leave.
A first distinction to fully understand the town, situated in the southernmost province of Sicily, must be made between the historical part and the modern part called respectively: Ragusa Ibla and Ragusa Superiore.
1. What to see in Ragusa Superiore
Ragusa Superiore is characterised by the presence of three bridges: Ponte Vecchio (or Ponte dei Cappuccini), Ponte Paolo Giovanni XXIII (or Ponte San Vito) and Ponte Nuovo (Ponte del Littorio).
It is no coincidence that it is called the “city of bridges”!
These bridges connect the division in the lower part of Ragusa Superiore, caused by the Vallata Santa Domenica or Cava Grande. This place is unique and it is proof of the two main historical activities of ancient town: intensive agriculture and extraction of white limestone.
In the latomie (stone quarries) of Cava Santa Domenica there are still “carcare” (real ancient ovens) that blend with the natural landscape.
Visiting Ragusa Superiore is an immersion in the modern world where the ancient part, sometimes forgotten, emerges taking back its space in the city. With an apocalyptic taste.
In Ragusa Superiore, in via Roma, we find the Square and the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista. Initially located in Ragusa Ibla, it was later demolished and rebuilt here larger and more majestic due to the competition between two rival factions, the “Sangiorgiari” and the “Sangiovannari”.
The Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista is embellished with several statues, inside you can admire the statue of San Giovanni built in 1513, and by a large churchyard that stands on the square. The new city has developed around it.
2. What to See in Ragusa Ibla
In Ragusa Ibla there are the remains of the demolished church on which the small church of Sant’Agnese was built. Left bare and reduced to a single nave due to the aforementioned feud, it has been restored with colored limestone, paintings from other churches and statues.
Ragusa Ibla is the true heart of the city. So are you wondering what to see in Ragusa Ibla? Here is the historic centre and, among the numerous alleys and steps that connect the streets of the city, there are wonderful churches and historic buildings in Baroque style. Unwritten paths that accompany you on a pleasant walk to discover the city.
The best things to see in Ragusa Ibla:
- Cathedral of San Giorgio
- La Rocca di Musebi Palace
- Arezzo di San Filippo Palace
- Arezzo Venninata Palace
- The Steps
- Hyblaean Garden
- Hyblaean Archaeological Museum
- Ciccio Sultano’s Duomo Restaurant – 2 Michelin stars
The protagonist of the city is located in the centre of Ragusa Ibla: it is the Cathedral of San Giorgio.
In 1738 Architect Rosario Gagliardi from Noto was commissioned to rebuild the church of the “Sangiorgiani” faction, destroyed by the earthquake. With a shrewd game of perspectives, orienting the church to the left with respect to the square, he built the Cathedral of San Giorgio in such a way that the dome was not covered by the majestic bell tower facade.
It is also possible to visit the Museum inside the Cathedral of San Giorgio where there are historical artifacts, sacred objects and the social history of Ragusa which, as we have seen, was deeply determined by the nobility, religion and disputes of the population.
Noble palaces overlook Piazza del Duomo. Among the most important ones: Palazzo La Rocca di Musebi, Palazzo Arezzo di San Filippo and Palazzo Arezzo Venninata.
Walking through the alleys and going up the famous steps you will come across baroque arches and churches.
I advise you to add to your list of what to see in Ragusa a stop at the Giardino Ibleo where a small oasis will welcome you for a well-deserved rest after hiking or a simple walk. Among the palm trees, the white benches and the fountains, the authentic panorama of the Iblei Mountains is hidden. The garden is spectacular at sunset!
The Ibleo Archaeological Museum is also important because it preserves ancient finds.
Visiting Ragusa Ibla is ideal if you love history, architecture, art and archeology. But this part of the town is also a recommended destination for appreciating the nature and the majestic landscapes that surround it.
A day here can only end with a dinner at Michelin-starred Chef Ciccio Sultano’s restaurant where you will be able to taste the best of Iblean and Sicilian cuisine.
What to See & Do around Ragusa Sicily
As you will have understood, Ragusa is located in the middle of an extraordinary territory, the Val di Noto.
Other 7 cities are UNESCO World Heritage:
- Militello Val di Catania
- Scicli (the latter two are located just a few kilometres from Ragusa).
Holidays for all tastes
Visiting Sicily means having the opportunity to immerse yourself in these Late Baroque Towns, but not only!
In fact, the area offers many interesting activities. You can choose both relaxing holidays and adventure holidays according to your mood.
You can hike or cycle through the Pino d’Aleppo Nature Reserve enjoying the unspoiled beauty of nature or you can enjoy total relaxation on the white beaches of the Nature Reserve situated at the mouth of the Irminio river.
The beaches on the Iblean coast are perfect for a beach holiday: for families, Marina di Ragusa is the beach that offers more services while maintaining free access. An excellent opportunity to have a good ice cream or a Sicilian granita on the beach.
If you love archaeology, the Kaukana Archaeological Park, the Roman Baths of Diana, Cava Lazzaro and Cava dei Servi are just some of the destinations that should be part of your trip itinerary.
15 kilometres from Ragusa we find Donnafugata Castle, shrouded in mystery about the origin of its name: in fact, although it seems to derive from the Arabic name Ain-jafat which means “Source of health”, there is a legend in which the white queen of Navarre, held captive, fled the castle. Hence the dialect name Ronna-Fugata (escaped woman).
The history is as fascinating as the castle itself, which is worth a visit.
What to eat in Ragusa
Iblean cuisine offers excellences that have made Sicilian food famous all over the world.
Modica Chocolate is an example. With its sandy consistency, thanks to the presence of sugar crystals, it tickles the palate and leaves a sweet taste in the mouth with a bitter note on the finish.
Flavoured with cinnamon, chilli, pistachios, hazelnuts and citrus fruits, it is one of the most appreciated traditional foods from Ragusa Sicily, which obtained the PGI Geographical Indication in 2018. A unique product that is exported all over the world.
The provinces of Ragusa, Catania and Syracuse are home to another Geographical Indication: Monti Iblei PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This excellent product has got an intense golden yellow colour with green notes, as well as a bitter and spicy taste.
The traditional Iblean cuisine has got Greek and Arab influences and it remains linked to authentic and intense flavours. It is a varied cuisine, with both meat and fish.
Agriculture and livestock farms offer the production of traditional fresh and aged cheeses such as ricotta, mozzarella and caciocavallo. They are used for tasty or sweet dishes.
Try the Ragusano PDO Cheese!
It is one of the oldest cheeses produced in Sicily. Dating back to 1500, it was known as “Caciocavallo” because it was put to dry astride the axis, but it stands out in the shape we know by presenting itself as a parallelepiped.
With an aromatic and sweet flavour, Ragusano cheese acquires spiciness during ageing. It is used to make the Scacce, traditional stuffed or rolled focaccia with tomato and onions.
The famous Giarratana Onion is cultivated in the Iblei mountains: it is well known for its large size and sweet taste. It is cooked au gratin in the oven or used as a container for Modica Cottoia Fava Bean, both Slow Food presidia.
Slow Food Presidia also protect the Scicli Cosaruciaru Bean (Sicilian “sweet bean”), the Modicana Cow and the Ragusano Donkey.
Other traditional Ragusan products are almonds, carob beans and prickly pears. They are often also found as granita flavours. I recommend that you try them when you taste the Iblean cuisine!
A good Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG wine cannot miss on the table of wine lovers.
Enjoying authentic food and wine experiences!
In the countryside around Comiso in the province of Ragusa, you will find different experiences waiting for you.
Our food expert will guide you in his multi-functional closed loop farm and you will be able to choose the experience that is right for you!
The choice is really wide near Ragusa:
And if you are interested in more than one, you can book a personalised experience here on Italia Delight!
After discovering what to see in Ragusa Sicily, we wish you a good trip 😉