Ragusa is one of the most picturesque towns in Sicily. The view from the upper town over Ragusa Ibla on its own separate hilltop is quite breathtaking. One of the UNESCO-listed Baroque towns of south-eastern Sicily, Ragusa is also one of the principal filming locations for the Sicilian detective drama Il Commissario Montalbano (Inspector Montalbano), a series which has done wonders for publicising the beauty of this area. With a new airport at Comiso, ten miles away, due to open, this is a tourist destination which is definitely up and coming.
Ragusa is in the Monti Iblei, a large area of high ground, divided up by dry stone walls and incised with ravines. The town was originally built on a small steep-sided hill with deep valleys on three sides separating it from the high plateau. After the earthquake of 1693, which destroyed many of south-eastern Sicily’s buildings, it was decided to rebuild Ragusa on higher, more level ground nearby. This new planned town was built, with straight streets and a rational layout, but local aristocrats didn’t want to move, and instead built themselves new palazzi on the ruins of the old town. So nowadays Ragusa has two parts: Ibla (or Ragusa Ibla), the older nucleus on its hilltop, and Ragusa Superiore, the more modern upper town which spreads from the post-earthquake streets into more recent developments. Like all Sicilian towns, Ragusa has its share of ugly modern sprawl, but this is well away from the historic centre, which is remarkably unspoilt.
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