- Not to be confused with Dubrovnik, historically known as Ragusa.
Ragusa is a city in Sicily, Italy. It's the provincial capital, with some 73,000 inhabitants (as of 2014). Along with 7 other nearby cities, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ragusa was part of the Grecian colony of Sicily, and later part of the Roman Byzantine empire. After several raids, in 868 AD it fell to the Muslims, who established the Emirate of Sicily. In 1090 it came under Norman rule. The area was fertile and the city grew up in the area now called Ragusa Ibla. "Hybla" means honey, and was also the name of an ancient deity.
The town was destroyed in the terrible Sicily earthquake of 1693. Most re-building was on higher ground, with Ragusa Superiore being laid out on a grid pattern on a hillside overlooking Ibla. It was constrained to the south by a deep ravine, but eventually this was bridged, and the south bank was also urbanised. Meanwhile, Ibla was largely neglected except as a source of masonry. This meant the medieval street pattern was preserved, while palaces and churches were rebuilt there piecemeal in baroque style. Gradually this area too was re-populated, and the two townships grew into each other, being formally merged in 1927.
So for the visitor, most sights of interest, and the more pleasing ambience in spite of the many tour groups, are found in Ibla. Although it's described as the "lower town", it's actually on a hilltop, with the upper town peering down from a higher hilltop. Exploring Ragusa involves lots and lots of slopes and steps. The church on the saddle of land joining the two hills is dedicated to "the blessed souls in Purgatory": if those souls had limited mobility, it would have sufficed to send them to Ragusa.
The Tourist Information Centre [dead link] is close to that church, at Piazza della Repubblica, the foot of Via Aquila Sveva, which is the lane up to Ibla. 1
There's another TIC in the piazza below Ragusa Superiore cathedral (St John the Baptist). This is in a 1960s concrete eyesore that defaces the entire square. In early 2018 it was partly fenced off because of falling cladding, so it would be a kindly storm that finished it off.
- 1 Aeroporto di Comiso "Pio La Torre" (CIY IATA) (18 km NE of Ragusa, 5 km N of Comiso). Ryanair are the main operator, flying daily from Milan MXP; also from Pisa, Rome FCO, Charleroi, Dublin, London Stansted, Frankfurt HHN and Dusseldorf NRN. In summer others fly once a week from Amsterdam, Brussels BRU, Birmingham, Dusseldorf DUS and Frankfurt FRA. There is no bus service. Car rental is available.
Other airports, with wider connections across Europe, are Catania-Fontanarossa Airport (97 km) and Palermo International Airport (274 km).
The nearest seaport is Pozzallo, 34 km south, with daily fast ferries to Malta.
Ragusa is on a branch line but six trains a day (M-Sa) go north to Gela (60-80 min, stops include Donnafugata) and south to Syracuse (two hours, stops include Modica, Scicli, Pozzallo, Ispica and Noto). From Gela there are connections to Palermo, and from Syracuse to Catania and Messina. No trains on Sunday. Trains are now modern with comfortable seats and toilets.
- 2 Stazione di Ragusa, Piazza Gramsci. M-Sa. The station is in the south part of R Superiore, across the ravine bridge, close to the AST bus stand. There's a ticket machine (so you must have a ticket, and validate it, before boarding) but otherwise no facilities.
There are buses from Syracuse, Catania, Modica, Vittoria, Marina di Ragusa, Noto, Palermo (4 hr, €12), and Rome (SAIS Trasporti). A list of bus companies operating from Ragusa can be found on the municipal website[dead link].
Local buses (e.g. to Modica and Syracuse, and the shuttle to Ibla) run from the small bus stand just below the railway station. Buy tickets on board or from tabachi.
Long-distance buses run from 3 Terminal Bus, Via Zama.
From Catania take SS114 and turn for Lentini SS194. From there follow sign to Ragusa on the SS514.
From Siracusa take the motorway A18 and then the SS115.
From Agrigento/Gela follow the SS.115
If you go there on foot do not follow the directions for cars but take the step streets down from Via Roma.
- AST (Azienda Siciliana Trasporti), via Libertà, 15. Provides urban transport services for the city. The main urban bus terminus is the "Nodo Zama" which is next to the intercity bus station and the "Nodo Piazza del Popolo", next to the railway station. If heading towards Ibla take buses 11 and 33 (hourly to 21:00), or line 1 (on Sundays and holidays), or line 3 (at night). Bus tickets are available from various news stalls and tabachi. Day pass €2.
There is a taxi station/office at the beginning of Ragusa Ibla in Piazza della Repubblica and there are taxis at the train station in the new Ragusa.
The old city is a spectacular mix of narrow streets, steep winding steps, old churches, and fantastic views.
- 1 Duomo di San Giorgio, Piazza Duomo (west side of the square). The duomo is the heart of Ibla. The cathedral has an imposing exterior staircase. It is a jewel of baroque architecture.
- 2 Portale di San Giorgio, Via Normanni. All that remains of the previous (14th-century) church of San Giorgio is this bricked-up doorway, in Gothic-Catalan style. It suggests that church was a grand affair, but its scene of St George slaying the dragon is sadly eroded by the wind. Saint, horse and dragon are now cadaverous, and the damsel is beyond saving.
- 3 Giardini Iblei (foot of Ibla). Restful public gardens, half in Italian style and half in English style, with views over the valley of the Irminio. With three small medieval churches: St Jacob, St Agata, and St Vicenza which is an artspace.
- 4 Scavi archeologici Ibla (Archeological Zone), Via Giardino. Small archeological area with Hellenistic-Greek ruins of Hybla dating to the 3rd century BC and Roman ruins dating to the 4th century AD.
- 5 Chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Itria, Via Scale. Church built in 14th century in the old Jewish quarter, belonged to the knights of Malta.
- 6 Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Scale. Church dating to the 13th century, inside it has three chapel/arches in late Gotic style.
- 7 Chiesa del Purgatorio (Chiesa delle Santissime Anime del Purgatorio), Piazza Repubblica. 17th-century church with Baroque portal and Bizantine walls.
- 8 Porta Valter, Via Valter. Ancient gate that is part of the medieval walls.
- 9 Palazzo Battaglia.
- 10 Palazzo Sortino Trono.
- 11 Palazzo della Cancelleria.
- 12 Palazzo La Rocca.
- 13 Palazzo Cosentini.
- 14 Palazzo Arezzo di Donnafugata, Corso XXV Aprile, 9. The Baroque residence of the former owners of the Castle of Donnafugata.
- 15 [dead link] Palazzo Arezzo di Trifiletti (Palazzo Arezzo-Bertini), Corso XXV Aprile, 4. by a prior reservation. You wouldn't guess what's inside by its modest exterior,
- 16 Circolo di conversazione (Conversations club), Piazza Duomo. by guided tours: see A Porte Aperte tours below. This rare example of Neo-Classical style in the region was built for aristocrats' social club. Amazingly enough it's still a private club.
- 17 Duomo San Giovanni (Cathedral of San Giovanni), Piazza San Giovanni, Ragusa. A grand baroque cathedral (built 1706 - 1778) with a splendid organ.
- 18 Palazzo Bertini, Corso Italia. not open to the public. Baroque palace
- 19 Palazzo dell'Aquila (Town Hall).
- 20 Palazzo Zacco, Via San Vito, 158. Tu-F 08:00-14.00 15:00-19:00, Sa 09:00-13:00 15:00-19:00. Free.
- 21 Palazzo Vescovile Schininà.
- 22 Ponte dei Cappuccini (Ponte Vecchio), Via Traspontino, Ragusa. Old bridge (1825) linking two parts of town with a series of arches.
- 23 Museo Archeologico Ibleo, Via Natalelli. M-Sa 09:00-18:30. Divided in 6 sections. Prehystoric, Greek, Siculis arcaic, Hellenistic, Roman and collection. Free.
- Teatro Donnafugata, Via Pietro Novelli, 5 (at the left side of the Palazzo Arezzo Donnafugata).
- A Porte Aperte (Unlocking Doors), Corso XXV aprile/Via Pietro Novelli (ticket office at the theatre of Donnafugata, next to the Circolo di Conversazione), ☏ +39 366 319 4177, email@example.com. W-Su 11:30, 12:30, 14:30, 15:30. Guided tours to the Circolo di Conversazione, the theatre of Donnafugata and the garden of Palazzo Arezzo-Bertini. Approx. 50 min, in Italian/English. €10 prior booking by phone or email.
- There is a project to convert the old railway-line running north past Chiaramonte Gulfi and to Vizzini (the track is already gone) into a bicycle-track.
- Ibla Buskers, on the streets of Ragusa Ibla. Every year for one week in October the streets of Ibla get populated by street-artists from all over the world.
- Ibla Grand Prize. Musical-Piano competition with musicians from all over the world. Concerts in the Piazzas of Ibla. June - July.
- Melodica. Piano concerts in the churches of Ragusa. May till November.
- Festival Organistico.
- Estate Iblea, Ragusa and Marina di Ragusa.
- Festa di San Giovanni, Piazza San Giovanni, Ragusa.
- Festa di San Giorgio, Piazza Duomo, Ragusa Ibla.
- Maria SS di Porto Salvo, Marina di Ragusa. procession with the statue of the Virgin Mary sailing on a boat in front of Marina di Ragusa. August.
- The main are Via Roma and Corso Italia.
- For souvenirs and typical Sicilian products the Via XXV Aprile in Ragusa Ibla has many shops with all the gadgets you want to buy in Sicily and take back home.
Shopping centres. There are two in Ragusa:
- Centro Commerciale Ibleo - Ipercoop, Viale delle Americhe, SP.52, Ragusa. Shopping centre.
- Le Massarie, Via A Grandi, Ragusa (on the road for Marina di Ragusa). Shopping centre.
There is a market M-Sa, but it moves between quarters of Ragusa. The main market is on Wednesdays next to the football stadium 'A. Campo' in Selvaggio quarter.
- Wednesdays, Contrada Selvaggio. Main market of Ragusa, next o the football stadium.
- Thursdays, Via A. De Gasperi.. Market, off Viale Europa.
- Fridays, Piazza Tamanaco. Location: off Via Archimede.
- Saturdays, Via P.S. Mattarella.. Location: at the end of Viale Napoleone Colajanni.
- 1 Ai Lumi, Corso 25 Aprile, 16 (one block downhill from Doumo in R Ibla), ☏ +39 0932 621 224. M-Sa 12:00-15:00, 19:00-22:00. Good simple menu, quality uneven.
- 2 La Bettola, Largo Camerina 7, Ragusa Ibla (from Duomo follow Conte Cabrera, turn right), ☏ +39 0932 653 394. W-Su 13:30-14:30 & 19:30-22:00; Tu 19:30-22:00. Good Sicilian home cooking.
- 3 [dead link] Cucina & Vino, Via Orfanotrofio, 91 Ragusa Ibla, ☏ +39 0932 686 447. Daily 12:00-15:00, 19:30-23:00. Good economical Sicilian cooking. Fast food it's not, so relax and enjoy.
- [dead link] U Saracinu Ristorante, Via Convento, 9 Ragusa Ibla (one block below Piazza Duomo), ☏ +39 0932 246 976. Restaurant & pizzeria, friendly staff, mixed reviews for quality of food.
- Duomo Ristorante, Via Capitano Bocchieri 31, R Ibla (just W of Piazza Duomo), ☏ +30 0932 651 265. Tu-Sa 12:30-14:00, 19:30-23:30; M 19:30-23:30. Upmarket restaurant with 2 Michelin stars, booking essential.
- Quattro Gatti, Via Valverde 95 (opposite Ibla Gardens), ☏ +39 0932 245 612. M-Sa 20:00-23:30. Sicilian cuisine with a Slovakian twist.
Most pubs are in Ragusa Ibla (old town) or in Marina di Ragusa (sea-town).
- Puglesi, Via Dante 94, +39 0932 686046. Bar at the bus stop, open late.
In Ragusa there are several hotels and many B&Bs. Out of town there is a good selection of agriturismi.
- [dead link] B&B Il Giardino dei Sospiri, Via dei Sospiri, 24 (at foot of R Ibla near Piazza Chiaramonte and gardens), ☏ +39 0932 651 418, firstname.lastname@example.org. Charming B&B with garden €24-40.
- Terra del sole Ibla B&B, Corso Giuseppe Mazzini 218b (on saddle of hill between R Ibla and R Superiore: take bus 11), ☏ +39 333 682 1202, email@example.com. Rooms with bathroom, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, good breakfast (included), beautiful view. A few free parking spaces in front of the B&B. single €35, double €55.
- Locanda Don Serafino, Via XI Febbrao, 15 (north slope of R Ibla near saddle of hill), ☏ +39 0932 220 065, firstname.lastname@example.org. Boutique 4-star mansion with 10 rooms with AC, bathroom, TV, safe, in-room internet connections. Also has a restaurant. €130 for a standard room.
- Sanvito Hostel, Via San Vito 176, 97100 Ragusa (Italy), ☏ +39 345 723 9849. Hostel, shared rooms. €20.
- 4 Castello di Donnafugata, 12 km out of town, next to the railway station Donnafugata, albeit the train schedule is not particularly convinient; perhaps a better option is a connection by bus, ☏ +39 0932 619333, email@example.com. Tu Th Su 09:00-13:00 14:45-16:15, W F Sa 09:00-12:45. Castle villa with a park. Most of its current Neo-Classical and Neo-Gothic appearance belongs to the 19th century. It's owned by the state. The terrace of the castle and the park were filmed in several scenes of the TV series Inspector Montalbano. €8.
- 5 Museo regionale di Kamarina (Archeological Park of Kamarina), S.P. 102 Km.1 C.da Cammarana-Ragusa (25 km from Ragusa), firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 09:00-13:30. Archeological park of the Greek city of Kamarina IV. BC and a museum. €4.
- 6 Marina di Ragusa. Enjoy beaches with fine sand, clear blue water and beach volleyball.
- The other baroque towns and UNESCO World Heritage sites are Modica 15 km, Scicli 25 km, Noto 55 km, Caltagirone 59 km, Piazza Armerina 88 km, and Pantalica 54 km. Modica is the most substantial.
- Syracuse is a must-see.