29 Oct RAGUSA IBLA, HISTORICAL CENTER OF THE CITY: TOURIST INFO
Ragusa Ibla is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating places in the area of the Iblei Mountains, a priceless treasure for the Sicilian Baroque and for tourism on the island.
Ragusa is the southernmost city in Italy, and in recent years it has rediscovered a strong tourist vocation, thanks above all to the ancient part of the city, Ragusa Ibla, today a pearl of Baroque and a World Heritage Site since 2002 according to UNESCO.
From the upper town it is possible to reach Ragusa Ibla on foot, only if armed with breath and comfortable shoes, thanks to a suggestive panoramic descent through the narrow streets of the city, made up of 340 steps.
Once in Ragusa Ibla, you will immediately realize that the real protagonist is the baroque, which impregnates every single building, monument, square and street of the city with its bursting and exuberant beauty.
video source: Claudio Mortini
RAGUSA IBLA: SOME HISTORICAL NOTES
Its origins date back to the early Sicilian period and seem to derive from Hybla Haerea, an aggregate of Sicilian villages that came into contact with the Greek and Roman populations that reached a certain importance in the Byzantine period.
In general, the city suffered the same fate as the entire Sicily, the protagonist of a succession of different peoples and cultures: Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Muslims, Normans and then Spaniards. It is easy to notice this cultural stratification from the Baroque palaces that rise near Byzantine walls and Roman ruins, in a cultural mixture of extreme richness and peculiarity.
During the Middle Ages, the village became an important agricultural and administrative center, but it was not spared by the terrible earthquake of 1693, which destroyed it. After the terrible calamity, thanks to some noble families who decided not to emigrate and to stay in Ragusa Ibla, the city was slowly rebuilt on the basis of the old medieval structure.
WHAT TO VISIT IN RAGUSA IBLA
THE CATHEDRAL OF SAN GIORGIO AND THE PALACES OF PIAZZA DUOMO
Surrounded by majestic Baroque palaces, the square takes its name from the Cathedral of San Giorgio, which stands tall on the fifty-four steps of its staircase.
Undisputed jewel of Sicilian baroque, the Duomo was finished at the end of the eighteenth century after almost forty years since the beginning of the works. In fact, after being hugely damaged by the earthquake of 1693, only in the mid-eighteenth century it was decided to rebuild it on the ruins of the already existing church of San Nicola, according to the project of the architect Rosario Gagliardi, already protagonist of the Baroque reconstruction of the Val di Noto.
To emphasize its grandeur, the building stands on a large staircase and places the prospect in an oblique position with respect to the square, a choice that makes the structure even more majestic. Moreover, thanks to the clever game of perspective, the enormous dome is not covered by the facade, remaining visible even from the square.
The square overlooks fabulous historic buildings: Palazzo Arezzo di Sanfilippo, a building dating back to the 1500s but which has undergone numerous changes that have altered its original appearance, Palazzo Arezzo Veninata, which is embellished with Liberty-style floral decorations, Palazzo Maggiore and Palazzo Majorana, which have a similar history to the previous two.
PIAZZA POLA AND THE CHURCH OF SAN GIUSEPPE
Piazza Pola, once the main square of Ragusa Ibla, houses the Church of San Giuseppe, built above the remains of the ancient church of San Tommaso, and the town hall that houses the Ibla Municipal Directorate.
The church of San Giuseppe was built in 1756 at the behest of the Benedictine nuns of the adjacent monastery, built thanks to the donation of the baron of Buscello. the works last forty years and although the designer is not known it is possible to trace the project back to the architect Rosario Gagliardi.
The façade is divided into three orders, the convex movement of the façade reminiscent of the nearby San Giorgio. The first order, marked by four columns, houses the entrance portal and four statues depicting the Saints of the Benedictine order. The upper order takes up the architectural elements of the lower one with two columns which at their center house a large window closed by a bulging lattice. The columns of the second order hold a broken tympanum above which is the belfry that houses three bells. St. Joseph is depicted in relief on the largest one.
THE IBLEO GARDEN
The Ibleo Garden is the oldest of the four main gardens of Ragusa Ibla and was built in 1858 on the initiative of some local nobles with the collaboration of the Ragusan people, who worked for free for the realization of the work.
This green lung ensures a pleasant corner of peace for visitors and presents itself with a large entrance avenue flanked by tall palm trees. From the avenue there is a wonderful park, equipped with stone benches, columns, decorated vases and an elegant limestone enclosure balcony from which it is possible to admire a breathtaking view: from the Iblei mountains to the Irminio river valley. At the center of the villa is the imposing monument to the fallen of the great war. The peculiarity of the garden is given by the presence of 3 churches inside it: San Domenico, San Giacomo and the Capuchin church.
Ragusa Ibla is not the only Sicilian village not to be missed, especially in this period. Take a look at what to do in Sicily in the winter months!