Explore Ragusa

Esplorare Ragusa_Ibla

Explore Ragusa is a pleasant outing from Casa Farlisa, an absolute must to get to know the area and appreciate it.

A bit of history

To explore Ragusa it is necessary to visit Ragusa Ibla, the ancient heart of the city, with its rich and complex history, is a jewel set in southeastern Sicily. Its origin dates back to ancient times, and its evolution is steeped in many cultural layers. Imagine walking through the cobblestone streets, where every stone seems to tell a story.
Ragusa Ibla has roots stretching back to the Bronze Age, however, it was during the Greek and Roman periods that it began to take shape as an urban center. Conquered by the Romans in 212 BC, Ragusa became an important agricultural and commercial hub, although it remained overshadowed by other more important Sicilian cities.
During the Middle Ages, Ragusa came under Byzantine rule and was later conquered by the Arabs in the 9th century. The Arabs made significant changes, improving agricultural techniques and influencing the local language and culture. It was during this period that the city took the name “Ragus,” which later became “Ragusa.”
With the Normans, beginning in the 11th century, Ragusa experienced a period of cultural and economic renaissance. Numerous churches and palaces were built in Romanesque and Gothic styles. The city continued to prosper under the Swabians, Angevins and Aragonese.
1693 was a crucial year in the history of southeastern Sicily and Ragusa; a devastating earthquake struck the vast territory, destroying much of the city. This tragic event marked the beginning of a phase of reconstruction, during which Ragusa was practically rebuilt in the late Baroque style. Local architects and artists, such as Rosario Gagliardi, Giovanni Battista Vaccarini and others, were the protagonists of this rebirth, giving life to splendid churches, palaces and the squares we admire today. With its narrow streets and charming squares, Ibla will make you feel as if you have jumped back in time.
The division of Ragusa into two parts, Ragusa Superior and Ragusa Ibla, dates back to the post-earthquake period. While Upper Ragusa developed as the new city center, Ragusa Ibla, with its labyrinthine streets and Baroque palaces, remained a magnificent example of a Baroque city, almost an open-air museum.
Today, Ragusa Ibla is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its extraordinary Baroque architecture and historical and cultural value. It is a tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the world for its architectural beauty, breathtaking views and unique atmosphere.

The Cathedral of San Giorgio

One cannot think of exploring Ragusa without mentioning the Cathedral of San Giorgio in Ragusa Ibla, a splendid example of late Baroque architecture that is one of the artistic gems of the region. Its construction began in the 18th century, after the 1693 earthquake that destroyed much of Ragusa’s old town, including the earlier medieval church.
The design of the new cathedral was entrusted to architect Rosario Gagliardi, who conceived a structure distinguished by elegance and dynamism, typical of the Baroque. The structure rises on an imposing staircase, creating a dramatic effect that accentuates its grandeur. This staircase, consisting of several levels, also serves to bridge the difference in ground level. Example of how Baroque architecture adapted to the challenges of the urban landscape. The facade is rich in decorative details, with columns, niches, statues, and ornate windows creating a play of light and shadow that changes throughout the day. It is divided into three parts, with the central portal framed by Corinthian columns and surmounted by a statue of St. George slaying the dragon, the symbol of the city.

Exploring Ragusa_Duomo San Giorgio Ibla
Cathedral San Giorgio Ibla

Inside, the cathedral is equally majestic, with a single nave leading to the high altar. The interior is richly decorated with stucco and marble, creating a solemn and majestic atmosphere. The high altar is a work of art in itself, richly decorated and placed so that it is the centerpiece of the entire building. Behind the altar, the semicircular apse with its chancel is equally impressive, with stucco details and artwork enriching the setting. Especially notable are the side chapels, each dedicated to a different saint and uniquely decorated.
The cathedral is also famous for its dome, a distinctive feature of Baroque architecture.

Visible from various points around the city, the dome also, adds a sense of majesty and grandeur to the entire structure.
The cathedral’s location in the center of Ragusa Ibla’s historic center makes it not only a religious, but also a cultural and social focal point. In summary, the Cathedral of San Giorgio is a masterpiece of Sicilian Baroque, enchanting visitors with its architectural elegance and decorative richness, testifying to the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the 18th century.

Exploring Ragusa_Cupola del Duomo di San Giorgio

The Hyblaean Garden

The Hyblaean Garden, is a must-see destination on a tour to explore Ragusa. Located in the oldest part of Ibla, it is a true jewel of greenery and history, an enchanting place that embodies the beauty and tranquility typical of historic Sicilian gardens. Also known as the Municipal Villa of Ragusa Ibla, it was built in the second half of the 19th century. Its creation is linked to the desire to provide the city with a place of recreation, a green oasis that would contrast the dense, baroque urbanism of Ibla.
The garden, designed in typical Italian style, is structured on terraces overlooking the valley below, offering spectacular views of the Ragusa countryside and the Iblei mountains. These terraces are connected by stairways and pathways, making for a pleasant and varied walk through the park.
One of the most remarkable features of the Hyblaean Garden is its vegetation. Centuries-old trees, such as palm, pine, and cypress trees, alternate with flowering shrubs, flower beds, and various Mediterranean plant species, creating a relaxing and lush environment.
Within the garden are several statues and monuments celebrating historical and cultural figures important to the city.
A particularly fascinating element of the Hyblaean Garden is the presence of three churches, each with a unique history and architecture: the Church of San Giorgio Vecchio, the Church of San Giacomo Apostolo and the Church of Cappuccini.
The Hyblaean Garden is not only a place of natural and historical beauty, but also an important social space for the people of Ragusa. It is a place where people gather to stroll, socialize and enjoy the tranquility of the environment. In addition, the garden hosts cultural events and demonstrations, serving as the beating heart for the city’s community life.
Walking in the Hyblaean Garden is an experience that allows one to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life, immersing oneself in a serene and historic environment. It is an ideal place for nature, history and art lovers to enjoy a unique setting where the beauty of nature blends with that of historic architecture.

Exploring Ragusa_Iblean Garden
Hyblaean Garden in Ragusa Ibla

The Cappuccini Bridge

This ancient bridge, which connects two significant parts of the city, is not only an excellent example of civil engineering but also a symbol of the city’s resilience.
Capuccini Bridge, built in the 19th century, is a structure that testifies to the ability of architects and engineers of the time to overcome considerable challenges. The bridge was built to connect the historic center of Ragusa Ibla with the more modern part of the city, Ragusa Superiore, thus uniting two urban realities that the 1693 earthquake had divided.
The structure of the bridge is distinguished by its majesty and the harmony of its forms. Made of limestone, a typical material of the region, the Cappuccini Bridge rises majestically above the valley, offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes. Its length and height make it one of the most impressive and scenic bridges in the area.
The simple and elegant design with classical-style arches combined with the sturdiness of the materials symbolize the ability to build durable works in harmony with the landscape.
Cappuccini Bridge is not only a work of engineering, but also a fundamental element in the social and cultural fabric of Ragusa. The bridge played a crucial role in facilitating movement and communication between different parts of the city, contributing to Ragusa’s economic and social development.
In addition, the bridge has become one of the city’s icons, attracting tourists and photography enthusiasts from all over the world. Its presence in numerous snapshots and postcards makes the Capuchin Bridge a recognizable emblem of Ragusa and its history.
Crossing the Cappuccini Bridge offers a unique experience, allowing for breathtaking views of the city and surrounding countryside. The walk over the bridge becomes a journey through time, where one can feel the centuries-old history of the city and appreciate the beauty of its landscape.

Other places to visit

Ragusa is a true open-air museum, but be sure to visit the Ibleo Archaeological Museum. Located in the heart of Ragusa, this museum is a must for history buffs. With an extensive collection of artifacts dating back to the Greek and Roman eras, the Hyblaean Archaeological Museum offers a fascinating journey into the region’s past. Don’t miss the local history section, where you can admire ancient jewelry, tools, and sculptures.

For those interested in the daily life of Ragusa’s past, the Appiano House Museum is a must-see. This perfectly preserved historic house offers an authentic glimpse into 18th-century bourgeois life. Each room is a small museum in itself, with period furniture, artwork and artifacts that tell the story of the Appiano family and life during that period.

Ragusa’s Baroque palaces are a must-see during a trip, dotted as it is with palaces that seem straight out of a fairy tale. Palazzo Bertini, located right in the center, is an outstanding example of Ragusa’s Baroque architecture. Notable for his decorative sculptures depicting three male faces, each symbolizing a phase of human life: youth, maturity, and old age. These sculptures, along with the intricate details that adorn the exterior, make Palazzo Bertini a unique work of art.
Cosentini Palace, is known for its exuberance and rich details. The facade of the building features four wonderful balconies: backbiting, storyteller, welfare, and gentleman. Each of them is supported by corbels, depicting grotesque subjects, connected to the four themes above. Instead, the majestic and elegant entrance portal opens onto Salita Commendatore.
The interior of the palace is equally majestic, with rooms expertly adorned with stucco and period furnishings. The ceilings are decorated with frescoes telling mythological and allegorical stories, adding another level of splendor to the palace.
Other places not to be missed while exploring Ragusa are: Palazzo Zacco and Palazzo La Rocca; The Church of Santa Maria delle Scale; Via del Mercato and Piazza Duomo.

A complete tour of Ragusa takes about 8-10 hours