The ancient historic centre of the city of Ragusa
Ragusa Ibla it is the ancient historic centre of the city of Ragusa. It is world-famous for having over fifty churches and many palaces, examples of the best Baroque art in Sicily. The small hill-top town of Ibla overlooks the surrounding valley, with its little houses and narrow streets dominated by the majestic Cathedral of San Giorgio, the pinnacle of Baroque in Ibla. In recent years, Ragusa Ibla has become one of the top tourist attractions in Sicily.
In 2002 the city was included among the Baroque UNESCO heritage sites of the Val di Noto. The city has also become famous over the years through the “Inspector Montalbano” television series: if you are a true fan of the series, here you will find the views and landscapes of Vigata and Montelusa, starting from Piazza Duomo and the Circolo di Conversazione in Piazza Pola which feature in several episodes. Visit the Montalbano locations and discover the TV series’ fascinating secret corners that come to life in front of your eyes. The rich architecture in local limestone is carved into spirals, voids and solids, columns and capitals, statues and decorations of all kinds.
What to see in Ragusa Ibla: in the streets of the Baroque district
Walking through Ragusa Ibla you find yourself immersed in a charming, welcoming atmosphere, steeped in history, where the real protagonist is the exuberant Baroque architectural style. Baroque art is celebrated in every architectural feature of this district: not only the churches and the ancient palaces, but also the small squares and alleys bear witness to Ibla’s Baroque architectural tradition.
The first thing to see is the magnificent square dominated by the Cathedral of San Giorgio with its majestic staircase. The Piazza del Duomo is the heart of Ibla. It is lined with the most important noblemen’s houses, the foremost of which is Palazzo Arezzi.
Another monument we recommend visiting is the Church of Santa Maria del Gesù, built around 1636 and flanked by a convent on four levels.
The oldest district of Ibla is San Paolo, where you can find the church decidated to Saint Paul and some Sicilian tombs. The district runs alongside a canal, across from the Church of San Bartolomeo, the Church of the Carmine and the Church of Santa Maria delle Scale which dominates the whole of Ragusa. Don’t miss a visit to this ancient corner of Ibla to lose yourself in its maze of stairways, admire its distinctive alleys and the little houses piled up on the rocky ridge. In these picturesque streets, some of which look abandoned, you will be transported to another era, where time seems to have stopped in the last century.
Monuments and churches
Most of the monuments in Ragusa Ibla are of the late Baroque style and are an explosion of imagination combined with the inspiration and skill of the eighteenth-century masters and artists. Strolling through the streets of the historic centre you can see the façade of Palazzo Zacco and the balconies of Palazzo Cosentini, featuring exuberant decoration of grotesque masks and images that is unique to the Baroque cities of the Val di Noto. Not to mention the Church of San Giuseppe and the Church of Purgatory with their multi-order facades teeming with sculptures, carvings, columns, arches and many other decorative features. Don’t miss the 18 UNESCO monuments in the city of Ragusa.
Things to see nearby
Around Ragusa Ibla, you will be spoilt for choice for places to visit, whether historic cities or beaches. For a relaxing break and a swim in the azure sea, Marina di Ragusa is the place to go. Just 25 km from Ragusa Ibla, the beaches of Marina di Ragusa have golden sands and shallow waters, and offer many services such as beach facilities, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Marina di Ragusa is also the ideal place for a fun evening out in the summer, going dancing or having a drink with friends. But if you don’t want too go to far away, Ragusa also has several restaurants, pubs and clubs where you can spend your evenings.
You can then continue touring the cities of the Val di Noto, visiting the other pearls of Hyblean Baroque: Scicli and Modica, also UNESCO heritage sites, are 25 km and 15 km from Ragusa Ibla respectively, and have their own truly fascinating historic centres.
Finally, stop by Donnafugata Castle to visit this nineteenth-century house and its huge park full of exotic plants, where you will find artificial caves and a labyrinth built of high dry-stone walls.
What to do in Ragusa Ibla
There’s absolutely no risk of getting bored during your holiday in Ragusa Ibla. In addition to the fascinating Baroque-style monuments, the city offers events, shows and traditional festivals that take place at various times of the year. Here are some recommendations that you shouldn’t miss.
Events and shows
Numerous events are held every year in Ragusa Ibla. The most spectacular and interesting is Ibla Buskers, a gathering of street artists that usually takes place in the first week of October. Ibla Buskers is an unmissable spectacle of movement: groups of jugglers, tightrope walkers and musicians perform along the ancient streets of Ibla. For over five decades, the city’s Baroque streets have offered entertainment of pure creativity and imagination featuring artists from all over the world.
If you’re on holiday with your children, there is a place for them too to have lots of fun at this event. In fact, recreational activities are organised that help little ones to discover the world of the circus, through workshops on balance, juggling, acrobatics, collages and much more. There is a charge for these workshops and places are limited, but you can also register online, on the Ibla Buskers site. During the event, transport from Ragusa to Ragusa Ibla is provided by the “Ibla in Bus” shuttle, which runs from Via G. di Vittorio to Largo San Paolo/Via Ottaviano until the evening.
Ibla Grand Prize
This musical event has been taking place throughout June and July every year since 1992 and is a real attraction for enthusiasts and tourists who come to Ibla especially to take part. Ibla Grand Prize is an international music competition open to composers, pianists and instrumentalists of all ages and from all over the world. The performances open to the public take place in the Sala Falcone Borsellino, on the stage in Piazza Pola and, above all, in the wonderful Baroque environments of the city’s historic buildings. The concerts offer genres for all tastes, ranging from classical to contemporary music, embracing genres such as jazz and sacred music.
Taking part in traditional festivals is a great way of really getting to know Sicilian culture and folklore, immersing yourself in a world of music, colours and entertainment. The Feast of San Giorgio and Holy Week are two particularly fascinating and spectacular occasions to experience at first hand.
Feast of San Giorgio
The most important festival celebrated in Ragusa is the Feast of San Giorgio, on the last Sunday of May: it is a religious and folk festival consisting of various events, including a curious procession with the statue of the saint, several concerts, fireworks and parades of flag-wavers.The festival usually takes place over three days. On the Friday and Saturday the statue of Saint George processes several times from the cathedral to the church of Purgatory. Alongside the religious event, the festival also features cultural and sporting events and street markets. But the highlight of the festival is on the Sunday, the day when the statue of St. George is carried on people’s shoulders to the rhythm of the music and followed by a large crowd. An lively expression of Sicilian folklore, the feast of St. George will transport you into a world of history and tradition.
Holy Week it is a very important time for the people of Ibla, and throughout Sicily. Ragusa Ibla has its own tradition that has its roots in ancient times, but also retains the flavour of the typical local folklore.
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, when some statues of saints are moved into the Church of San Giorgio. Then, on Maundy Thursday, a “tomb” is prepared in almost all the churches: the altars are set up with offerings and funeral symbols to represent the tomb of Christ. Popular tradition has it that these tombs should always be visited in odd numbers, so be careful not to lose count!
The most solemn day of the Easter period is Good Friday, when the images of Our Lady of Sorrows and of Christ are carried on people’s shoulders in a procession.
An unexpected twist: during Holy Week in Ragusa, and in the neighbouring cities, you will discover a Spanish flavour that are reminiscent of the rites of Semana Santa in Andalusia, a legacy of the ancient Spanish dominion in Sicily.
In Ragusa, the Easter period is also celebrated at the table: taste ‘mpanate, a typical dish that consists of a sort of calzone pizza filled with meat or vegetables.
Markets and food festivals
Fancy a look round a local street market? In Ragusa Ibla’s via Sergente Scribano one of the city’s local markets takes place every Monday. Here you can find fresh local fruit and vegetables, clothing and other products. Then on Wednesdays there is a very large and well-stocked market in Contrada Selvaggio.
We also recommend a very special food and drink festival that can turn into a great opportunity to visit the district of Ragusa Ibla, and excite your taste buds. Scale del Gusto (Taste on the Steps) it is a refined food festival of local produce that winds every year through the Baroque steps of Ragusa Ibla, where you can attend tastings, cooking lessons, guided tours, concerts and exhibitions. The event usually takes place in October, with a two-day programme to get to know the area and its cuisine.
Ragusa Ibla’s location and how to get there
Ragusa Ibla is the historic centre of the municipality of Ragusa, located in south-east Sicily, south of the Hyblaean Mountains.
You can get to Ragusa Ibla by car from Catania along national highway SS 194 and continuing in the direction of Syracuse, then turn off the SS 194 towards Ragusa.
From Palermo, take the A19 Palermo-Catania motorway as far as Caltanissetta, continue on the SS 626 as far as Gela, then take the SS 115 to Ragusa.
From Agrigento follow the SS 115 coast road to Caltanisetta in the direction of Gela-Ragusa. From Syracuse take the SS 115 towards Noto and Ragusa.
To be more independent, the car is the best way of getting to Ragusa Ibla, as there is little public transport. If you arrive by air, we suggest renting a car at the airport or directly from a car rental agency in Ragusa (see the Car rentals section for more information).
Many streets in Ragusa Ibla are restricted traffic zones (ZTLs) which you cannot access by car. We therefore recommend these car parks, both free and paid parking, which are located a short walk from Piazza Duomo:
- Parcheggio Repubblica, free of charge, in Via Avvocato Giovanni Ottaviano, adjacent to Corso Don Minzoni
- Free parking next to the Hyblaean Gardens
Sometimes you may find the free car parks already full, especially at weekends and when there are many visitors, such as in summer or at events and festivals. In this case we recommend the paid car parks in Ragusa Superiore (the upper town), from where you can reach Ibla on the urban line:
- Paid car park SiSosta “Palazzo dell’Aquila”
Entrance: Corso Italia (opposite the Town Hall)
Capacity: 250 spaces
Opening hours: round the clock
www.sisosta.it – ☎ 0932 624478
- Paid car park SiSosta “Ponte Vecchio”
Entrance: Via Gen. Dalla Chiesa
Capacity: 100 spaces
Opening hours: round the clock
www.sisosta.it – ☎ 0932 080361
- Paid car park SiSosta “Piazza del Popolo”
Entrance: Piazza Del Popolo
Capacity: 200 spaces
Opening hours:round the clock
www.sisosta.it – ☎ 0932 651526
- Paid car park Via Ecce Homo
Entrance: Via Ecce Homo 181
Capacity: 50 spaces
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 7.30-20.00; Saturday 7.30-13.30; Sunday closed
The railway station is located at Piazza Antonio Gramsci No 2, Ragusa. You can buy tickets at the station or on the Trenitalia website, where you can also consult timetables and routes.
- Since the best way to travel to and from Ragusa Ibla is by car, if you don’t bring your own, we suggest renting.
If you’re flying into in one of Sicily’s airports, it’s best to contact the car hire companies there, so that you can take the car back there before the return flight at the end of your holiday.
Follow these links to see which car rental agencies operate in the various Sicilian airports:
- Car rentals at Catania Airport
- Car rentals at Comiso Airport
- Car rentals at Palermo Airport
- Car rentals at Trapani Airport
If you decide to rent a car on arrival in Ragusa Ibla, we advise you to contact:
- Autonoleggio ADP Group – Viaggi e Turismo
▼ Via Francesco Ferrucci n° 3, 97100 Ragusa
☎ +39 0932 251439
If you decide to travel here by public transport you can get the bus from Catania airport, on the Etna Trasporti line, and from Comiso airport on the Tumino line. This same bus line connects Ragusa Ibla with the nearby seaside resorts of Marina di Ragusa, Casuzze, Caucana and Punta Secca. Ragusa Ibla is also connected to Syracuse by AST’s intercity lines.
The bus terminal is in Ragusa at Via Zama No 53, where you can take the urban line to the historic centre of Ragusa Ibla.
Taking a bus around Ragusa Ibla is also a good way to see the sights along the route. The lines serving Ragusa Ibla are 11 feriale and 33 feriale (on weekdays and Saturdays), 1 festiva (on Sundays and public holidays) and 3 notturna (night bus). You can consult the timetables on the Municipality of Ragusa website and purchase urban and intercity bus tickets at any ticket office, stationer’s or authorised seller
From the airport
The airports nearest to Ragusa Ibla are Catania (100 km) and Comiso (30 km), which offer excellent connections by bus, shuttle and taxi. To reach Ragusa Ibla from Catania take the Etna Trasporti line from the Arrivals Terminal forecourt, where you can buy the ticket.
To reach the city from Comiso airport, take the Tumino bus. Tickets can be purchased directly on board.
The airports of Trapani (300 km) and Palermo (250 km) are four to five hours from Ragusa Ibla, and the roads are not in very good condition. We therefore advise you to fly to Palermo or Trapani only if you cannot find flights to Comiso or Catania. Go to our page Sicily’s airports for more information on the routes and the airlines that serve the island’s main airports.