I could say it was the promise of magnificent baroque architecture that drew me to Ragusa.
Ragusa is one of the towns in Sicily’s south-eastern corner flattened by an earthquake in 1692, and rebuilt totally in the Spanish Baroque style (the Spanish were in charge at the time). Because of this, it’s part of the Val di Noto UNESCO Heritage site.
While I am very fond of the baroque architecture in this part of Sicily, having previously been to Catania and Noto I’d already admired quite a bit of it.
No, if I’m being completely honest, it was Montalbano.
Montalbano is a series of books, and now TV shows, about a detective in Sicily, and Ragusa is one of the locations that pops up quite often. My sister-in-law Graziella lent me the boxed series some time ago (and had to jemmy it from my clutches many months later).
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll already know that my interest in travelling is often piqued by beautiful places I see on the big and little screens.
After going out of our way to visit places that turned out to be really overrated or just plain weird, (read about one such place here ) Mr Travelling Pantaloni now only semi-jokingly asks “Is it UNESCO?” whenever I suggest going someplace new, as that’s our (his) new measure of worthiness.
So, Ragusa = UNESCO + Montalbano = Andiamo! (Let’s go!)
I should clarify that it’s Ragusa Ibla I’m talking about here. There are two parts to the town, and this is the one you want to head for.
Let’s have a look around Ragusa …
The main drag is Corso XXV Aprile
And you can follow that all the way downhill to the Giardini Ibleo –a lovely shady space, with views along the valley from its terrace.
There’s not a great deal to ‘do’ here, if doing things is high on your list, it’s more a place to wander around, admire and wait for Montalbano to appear (which unfortunately for me, he never did). However two places are really worth going to.
The first is the Basilica di San Giorgio.We tried to visit several times, but it always seemed to be closed. Luckily our schedules finally collided on our last day there, and I’m so glad they did because inside there were processional floats! I really love a parade, and the next best things to being there is seeing the floats. These ones were still on display from a parade two weeks prior. My favourite was this one of St George slaying the dragon.
It was all very shiny and just a little bit kitsch, so I was really in my element.The other place worth popping into is the church museum, the Museo di San Giorgio (the entrance is just behind the church). The poster promised more shiny things and once we got upstairs and past the sculptures on the ground floor, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Loads of gold, shiny and frankly quite creepy things kept me entertained. Totally worth it for 3€.
Where we stayed in Ragusa
I’ll only choose to stay in a town if I can find great accommodation, and B&B Palazzo Duomo del Castro certainly fit that requirement.
This is the view from our balcony towards the Basilica. It was lovely waking up to the 7am bells every morning.
Our room also had a gorgeous tile floor, a painted domed ceiling and lots of space: all very important considerations I feel.
Eating and drinking in Ragusa
We found some great places to eat and drink here including:
- Al Borgo, right outside our B&B in the piazza. Great for simple lunches and early evening apperitivi. When we were there it was only 5€ for any cocktail, including snacks. It’s a lovely spot to watch the afternoon sun glow on the Duomo and listen to the 7 o’clock bells
- Gelati di Vini – a gelataria a bit further down the hill at the end of the piazza that makes excellent gelato in unusual flavours eg beetroot and ricotta
- Quattro Gatti, where we stuffed ourselves silly with Sicilian home cooking. Read more about our visit here.
Day trips from Ragusa
From Ragusa we did day trips to Modica, Scicli, Noto, Villa Romana del Casale, and Caltagirone, so it makes a really great base. Read more about our day in Caltagirone here. Stories on the other trips coming soon (promise).
Until next time, happy travels,
The Travelling Pantaloni
This is very exciting for me to see your travels to this part of Sicily. I too am a Montalbano fan ( books and TV series) and also have a keen interest in baroque arcitecture as well. After loving Lecce and Puglia last year, we are heading to Sicily next year. Can hardly wait! In the meantime I shall pour over your wonderful posts!
Hi Paula, well you’re really in for a treat then! Sicily is full of baroque architecture – and the churches of that period are truly astounding. I didn’t do a Montalbano tour but apprently they’re available if you’re keen. If you have any questions about Sicily I’m always happy to answer. TP