Рагуза / Ragusa

Divided into two towns located on different levels and connected by numerous staircases and bridges, Ragusa has a unique Sicilian character, making it perhaps the most picturesque village on the whole island! This is another Baroque masterpiece in the Val di Noto valley that is well worth a visit…

Where is located and how to get there

Ragusa is the capital of the province of the same name, located on limestone cliffs and surrounded by deep ravines. It’s located very close to Modica (16 km) and Scicli (26 km), whose visit to the area we combined. Comiso Airport, opened only in 2013, is just 20 km from the city and opens up new tourist horizons to the south-eastern part of the island, with flights mostly from mainland Italy and several European destinations.

We arrived from Catania Airport (104 km) with a rental car from our partners Autoeurope. Once again I’m sharing, but it’s definitely the fastest and most convenient way to get around Sicily! We parked easily and without problems in the spacious Parcheggio Repubblica, which has a paid (blue outline) and a free section (white outline). Another convenient parking lot is the Area di parcheggio Giardino Ibleo, which is also free.

See car rental options in Sicily

The city is easily accessible by bus and train from nearby Noto, Modica, Syracuse. On the website of the main bus line ATS you can get more information about timetables and prices, and for train connections I advise you to use Trenitalia, where tickets can be purchased in advance.

See places to stay in Ragusa

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The view from Santa Maria delle Scale

What better way than to start the tour of Ragusa with a climb! We definitely prefer it to be at the beginning rather than the end of our walk… So we decide to head to the highest point to enjoy a stunning view of the old town (Ragusa Ibla). The most popular place to accomplish this goal is the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Scale and the stairs that surround it. It’s worth looking back all the way up, but what unfolds before our eyes at the top is certainly one of the most beautiful panoramic views in all of Sicily!

More about Ragusa

Ragusa’s roots date back to the 2nd millennium BC, passing through Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman rule to reach the Kingdom of Sicily in the 12th century. The devastating earthquake of 1693 killed over 5000 people and destroyed almost the entire city… This causes a large part of the population to look for more stable ground to build their homes anew, which creates an entirely new, more modern city, in the face of Ragusa Superiore. Others decided to completely revive the medieval part of Ragusa Ibla, so that today it can be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attract thousands of tourists with its exquisite Sicilian Baroque! And the steps are actually the connection between the two cities, which functioned separately until 1926.

The view from Corso Mazzini

Our goal is all Ragusa Ibla, but if you have more time, you can jump from here to the Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista, which is the only thing more impressive in Ragusa Superiore. And while we’re still in the neutral zone between the new and the old town, it’s worth detouring down the spiraling Corso Mazzini to enjoy a few more breathtaking views… My favorite is the turn HERE, where we settled comfortably on the curb next to the lemon tree and feasted on the tiled roofs beneath our feet, complemented by the iconic blue roof of the Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Itria and here and there a colorful facade…

Squirming through the streets

Time to wander the narrow streets of Ragusa… Getting lost among them is perhaps the most fascinating thing to do in this Sicilian town! Let your curiosity guide you… You’ll pass baroque palaces with exquisite figures on their facades, such as the Palazzo Della Cancelleria and Palazzo Cosentini, you’ll climb bridges and terraces with beautiful views of opposite rooftops, and no matter how logical it seems to you where a street leads, you’ll fall at times at a dead end, ending up at someone’s front door… The locals always walk confidently and with an ironic smile enjoy the puzzled look of the tourists.

The central square (Piazza Duomo) and the Duomo (Duomo di San Giorgio)

After all, no matter how much you wander… you will still end up in the heart of the old town – Piazza Duomo. The main highlight of the square is undoubtedly the Duomo di San Giorgio. Its baroque splendor is impressive! Although nowadays the cathedral of Ragusa Superiore is the main church of the city, for a long time it was one for the inhabitants of Ibla, which is why it remains known as the Duomo. And it bears the name of Saint George (San Giorgio) – the patron saint of Ragusa.

The building was built in the 18th century, taking around 40 years to complete! The architect is Rosario Gagliardi, who also designed the namesake from Modica (Duomo di San Giorgio Modica), which may explain the similarities in their visions. The lunch break is from 12:30 to 16:00, and we hit that period exactly, so we didn’t get to see the interior…

💡 We can’t miss that the Duomo of Ragusa is one of the most iconic backdrops for the series “Commissar Montalbano”. Except from Scicli, which we already talked about, numerous shots from Ragusa also appear in the TV series.

From here, you can easily take the pedestrian street Corso XXV Aprile, which with its elegant appearance is a favorite place of the locals for the traditional “passeggiata” – an evening walk between 5:00 PM and 8:00 PM. It is no less charming during the day, with some of the most beautiful Baroque buildings in Ragusa. As well as many cafes, restaurants, cheese and charcuterie shops and bars, but most of them are closed in winter. Stop by the Chiesa di San Giuseppe because this church, commissioned in the 18th century by Benedictine nuns from a nearby monastery, is another example of Sicilian Baroque!

The city park – Giardino Ibleo

At the end of the street you find yourself in a real green oasis… Giardino Ibleo! Filled with a huge variety of Mediterranean vegetation, the peaceful city park is a great place to relax in the shade on hot days or for a short escape from the baroque cityscape. Be sure to get to the panoramic terraces at the end to look out over the valley surrounding the city…

For a final

We had settled very comfortably on one of the stone benches under the palm trees, but the appearance of ominous, dark clouds made us walk the way back very fast to the car park… Luckily we made it and rained when we until already traveled to Modica We spent around 3 hours exploring Ragusa, but you can easily spend more time, it’s worth it. The town would also make a good base for touring the Val di Noto valley.