An island in the island
Ragusa is located in the heart of Val di Noto, in the south east of Sicily, and is the chief town of the southernmost province of Italy. Immersed in a territory rich in natural and architectural beauties worth to visit, the city rises on the Hyblaean Mountains near the river Irminio, whose mouth is part of a nature reserve between Marina di Ragusa and Donnalucata.
The baroque architecture, remarkable for its fancy and rich features on vaults, columns, capitals and facades, represents the most widespread artistic style of the area of Ragusa, where it bloomed after the earthquake of 1693. The artistic and historic importance of the city ensured Ragusa being listed as UNESCO World Heritage in 2002.
Visiting Ragusa is also a good opportunity to try the local cuisine rich in typical products, such as the scacce and the provola ragusana cheese.
Spend your holidays in one of the most beautiful Sicilian cities and discover the filming locations of Inspector Montalbano, the detective tv series that made famous this corner of Sicily.
What to see in Ragusa
The earthquake that destroyed the entire south east of Sicily in 1693 forced the inhabitants of Ragusa to rebuild their city, giving it a brand new and suggestive aspect. Ragusa was then divided in two big districts, Ragusa Superiore and Ragusa Ibla, the last one being rebuilt on its previous medieval structure.
Ragusa Superiore represents instead the modern part of the city, also called “the city of the bridges” due to the presence of three picturesque bridges crossing a green valley.
Walk around and cross Ponte Vecchio, Ponte Nuovo and Ponte Giovanni XXIII (or Ponte San Vito), overlooking Cava di Santa Domenica, the valley beneath where you can spot paths, tiny rocky houses and hear the sound of a stream hidden in the vegetation.
Curious to find out more? If you are a nature lover, you can visit this naturalistic area rich in stone quarries and typical Mediterranean plants: we recommend to visit this area with a local guide or to go on an organized trekking.
Do you want to find out more about the origins of Ragusa and its traditions?
If you are interested in the history and archaeology of this territory, which is important not only for its Baroque, but also for its Greek and Roman art, we recommend you to visit some museums of the city.
The Museo Archeologico Ibleo is located in Ragusa in via Natalelli, on the first floor of Palazzo Mediterraneo. It preserves the findings discovered in the province of Ragusa, dating back from the Neolithic to the late-ancient age. For more information about opening hours and tickets, visit the website of Beni Culturali.
The archaeological site of Kamarina located near Scoglitti, is one of the most important archaeological areas in Sicily. The ruins of the ancient colony of Kamarina are preserved in the Museo Archeologico Regionale di Camarina, next to the archaeological area.
In the end, the archaeological area of Caucana showing the ruins of the late-ancient fishing village of Kaukana, is located along the provincial road between Punta Secca and Marina di Ragusa.
What to see in Ragusa in one day
Among the monuments and churches to see in one day in Ragusa, do not miss some of the 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Most of them are in the historic centre of Ragusa Ibla, while others are in Ragusa Superiore.
Starting our tour from Piazza San Giovanni, you can see the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, dating back between the seventeenth and the eighteenth century. Its facade, a magnificent example of baroque art, is divided into five parts by high columns and presents several sculptures and carvings. Just next to this church, in via Roma, there is Palazzo Vescovile, the biggest late-eighteenth century building of Ragusa. Proceeding then in Corso Italia, we reach Palazzo Bertini, whose facade shows three characters of the baroque culture: a begging, a noble and a merchant. The fourth and last UNESCO monument of Ragusa Superiore is Palazzo Zacco, headquarters of the Museo del Tempo Contadino, where you can see the tools of the local country tradition.
Keep following our route to discover the three bridges of Ragusa: Ponte Vecchio or Ponte dei Cappuccini, built in 1843, is the most ancient of the three and remembers the Roman bridges, due to the arches of its structure. The second one, Ponte Nuovo, was built in 1937 and leads to Piazza Libertà, while the third one, Ponte Giovanni XXIII, was built in 1964 and connects two districts: Quartiere del Carmine and Quartiere dei Cappuccini. Among the streets of these districts, you can see curious wall paintings on some buildings. It is worth having a walk through the streets of Ragusa to discover those examples of street art that enhance and give a touch of colour to the city.
Things to see nearby
The province of Ragusa, located in the south east of Sicily, offers countless architectural and natural beauties.
Wide and golden sandy beaches, interrupted by cliffs, extends along the coast. Olive and carob trees surround old masserie (farmhouses) delimited by typical dry-stone walls in limestone rock.
The baroque towns of Val di Noto and UNESCO World Heritage of Modica and Scicli represent the artistic and cultural value of this province, rich in churches, monuments and archaeological sites.
History, art and tradition contribute in making this area one of the most renowned and appreciated tourist destinations in Sicily today.
The province of Ragusa boasts a remarkable artistic and cultural heritage thanks to the value of the baroque architecture. Also Ispica and Comiso, two pearls of Val di Noto and UNESCO World Heritage, offer several baroque monuments and churches.
The late baroque of this area, unique and different if compared to the European baroque, finds its origins in the mastery of capable local artisans, who carved the local limestone rock creating spectacular facades, furious and sneering faces, corbels, cherubs, masks and round balconies. An exuberant and grotesque architecture showing the high artistic, historic and cultural value of the province of Ragusa.
The countryside, rich in dry-stone walls, large extensions of olive, carob, almond trees and prickly pears, is an oasis of peace, a place where the typical Sicilian farmhouses marry with the surrounding natural environment, creating a harmonious and enchanting landscape. The limestone hills offer different rock formations, natural and artificial quarries, archaeological sites and natural paths ideal for trekking or cycling.
Among the archaeological and natural areas worth visiting, there is Parco Archeologico della Forza, located on the slopes of the hill on the top of which Ispica rises, and Cava d’Ispica, which is located between Ispica and Modica. These two areas shows the geologic and historic features of the territory of Ragusa, dating back to very ancient ages.
About 20 km from Ragusa there is the Donnafugata Castle, a wonderful and unique mansion of the nineteenth century with a garden rich in Mediterranean and exotic plants. It was the filming location of different movies and tv series, such as “I Vicerè” and the famous “Inspector Montalbano”
Take a relaxing break in the near seaside resort of Marina di Ragusa, about 20 km from Ragusa. Its promenade, the dockings of the tourist port and its golden sandy beaches are the perfect destination to have a walk by the sea or enjoy the sun of this corner of Sicily. Marina di Ragusa offers several restaurants and coffee bars where you can eat fresh fish and delicious ice-creams. It is a good alternative to the tour of the baroque towns, in order to enrich your holiday with something different and be cuddled by the mild marine breeze in spring or sunbathe in summer.
What to do in Ragusa
Besides visiting Ragusa and its historic centre, we recommend you some events, feasts and shows that take place in different times of the year. Live Ragusa to the fullest means to take part in its folkloric traditions and cultural events that liven up this beautiful city.
Events and shows
Walking around the streets of Ragusa you will notice wall paintings on some buildings. These artworks are the result of an important street art event in Europe. The Festiwall is an artistic moment in which the walls of the city become big canvas ready to receive a touch of colour by famous international artists, such as Guido Van Helten and Sebastián Velasco. After various editions, Ragusa has become a very interesting outdoor museum.
Ragusa is an artistic and cultural city that will not disappoint theatre lovers: its theatres and cinemas offer interesting shows. Go to the website of Comune di Ragusa to check out the calendar of all the cultural events and shows.
Traditional Festivals and concerts
Even if the heart of the traditional feasts is Ragusa Ibla, Ragusa Superiore has also its patron saint, San Giovanni, to which the city dedicates great celebrations each year on 29th August.
The feast of San Giovanni is the most important religious and folkloric event of the city, together with the feast of San Giorgio in Ragusa Ibla. Taking part to this feast means to be immersed in the typical Sicilian union of sacred and profane, where in most cases the religious feast is linked to a riot of joy and local folklore. The procession of the saint, represented by a very ancient limestone statue of the first sixteenth century, is accompanied by the musical band throughout the streets of the city. The feast is enriched by a market of typical products, a great melting of scents and colours of the Hyblaean tradition, in addition to collateral events, exhibitions and parades of Sicilian carts.
If you come to Ragusa in winter, you have the possibility to hear the original sound of the ancient pipe organs of the baroque churches: the Festival Organistico takes places in November and December. The concerts take place in the most beautiful churches of Ragusa, such as the Church of Santissime Anime del Purgatorio, the Church Ecce Homo and the Church of Santa Maria dell’Itria.
Markets and food festivals
Come to Ragusa in August and “get drunk” with more than 100 artisanal beers, tasting the best of the Sicilian street food: this is possible with Birrocco! This event takes place in the historic centre of Ragusa Superiore and boasts the presence of international artists, as well as sensory laboratory and tastings. Enjoy a walk through the baroque streets of the centre, while tasting a good Italian beer with delicious typical dishes: a perfect match of “beer and tradition” to awake your senses!
The entrance is free, while the participation to the laboratories is possible upon reservation: for more information check out the Birrocco website.
Have a look round a local street market: every Wednesday in Contrada Selvaggio you will find all kinds of goods, from food to cloths.
What to do in the evening
If you are not tired yet, enjoy the nightlife in Ragusa.
Usually young people gathering in Piazza San Giovanni take sit on the stairs of the church parvis to drink a beer and chat. The Sicilian nightlife is outdoor, just dropping by a pub to another, unless it is too cold to stay outside. In this case you can “seek refuge” in one of the smart bars and restaurants to enjoy a happy hour with local products or have a good tea in a literary coffee shop. If you want to spend a relaxing and interesting evening, you cannot miss shows and concerts.
However, in summer the heart of the nightlife is in Marina di Ragusa. Here you can go wild with music, have a happy hour or a pizza and dance on the beach. The energy of this seaside resort, one of the most popular in Sicily, attracts lot of young people coming from the province and tourists from all over the world.
Where it is and how to get to Ragusa
Ragusa rises on a hilly area of the Hyblaean Mountains, about 500 m on the sea level, in the south east of Sicily. The eastern area of the city is marked by the river Irminio.
Since the connections by public transport are not good, the car is the best means to reach Ragusa from all areas of Sicily.
From Catania take the state road SS 194 and follow the direction to Syracuse. Then go towards Ragusa always keeping the SS 194.
From Palermo take the highway A 19 Palermo-Catania until Caltanissetta. From here continue on the SS 626 to Gela and then proceed along the SS 115 to Ragusa.
From Agrigento take the SS 115 to Caltanissetta in the direction to Ragusa.
From Syracuse take the SS 115 to Noto and Ragusa.
In the city centre of Ragusa Superiore there are mainly paying parking spaces marked by blue lines: they are in Corso Italia, Corso Vittorio Veneto, Via Roma, Via Carlo Alberto dalla Chiesa and nearby areas. Here are some free and paying parking areas out of the city centre:
- Free parking area Contrada Tribuna
- Free parking area Tabuna (in front of the police station)
- Paying parking area SiSosta “Palazzo dell’Aquila”
Entrace: Corso Italia (in front of the town hall)
Capacity: 250 posti
Hours: aperto 24 ore
www.sisosta.it – ☎ 0932 624478
- Paying parking area SiSosta “Ponte Vecchio”
Entrace: Via Gen. Dalla Chiesa
Capacity: 100 posti
Hours: aperto 24 ore
www.sisosta.it – ☎ 0932 080361
- Paying parking area SiSosta “Piazza del Popolo”
Entrace: Piazza Del Popolo
Capacity: 200 posti
Hours: aperto 24 ore
www.sisosta.it – ☎ 0932 651526
- Paying parking area Via Ecce Homo
Entrace: Via Ecce Homo 181
Capacity: 50 posti
Hours: Mon-Fri 7,30-20,00; Sabato 7,30 – 13,30; Sun closed
The train station is located in Piazza Antionio Gramsci n. 2. Tickets can be purchased at the train station or on Trenitalia, where you can check out timetables and routes.
If you land in one of the airports and want to rent a car to reach Ragusa, go to the following websites to find out more info:
- Car rentals in Catania Airport
- Car rentals in Comiso Airport
- Car rentals in Palermo Airport
- Car rentals in Trapani Airport
To rent a car in Ragusa we suggest:
- Autonoleggio ADP Group – Viaggi e Turismo
▼ Via Francesco Ferrucci n° 3, 97100 Ragusa
☎ +39 0932 251439
Ragusa is well connected by bus to the airports of eastern Sicily and to different nearby seaside resorts. The Bus Terminal is in via Zama n. 53, where urban and intercity lines stops. To reach Ragusa Superiore from Ragusa Ibla, take the urban buses, n. 1, 11, and 33 (working days) di cui puoi consultare gli orari sul sito del Comune di Ragusa. Tickets can be purchased at any ticket office, stationery or authorized dealer.
From Catania Airport you can reach Ragusa by the Etna Trasporti line, while from Comiso Airport take the Tumino line. Questa stessa autolinea collega The same line links Ragusa to the nearest seaside villages: Marina di Ragusa, Casuzze, Caucana and Punta Secca. Moreover, Ragusa is connected to Modica, Scicli and Syracuse by the intercity AST line.
If you travel by plane, we recommend you to book a flight landing in Catania or Comiso, the nearest airports to Ragusa, from where you can easily reach the city by transfer or bus.
Travelling by bus is the cheapest option. To reach Ragusa from Catania Airport take the Etna Trasporti line from the Arrivals Terminal, where you can buy the ticket.
To get here from Comiso Airport take the Tumino line. The ticket can be purchased on the bus.
On the contrary, the airports of western Sicily, Trapani (300 km) and Palermo (250km), are far from Ragusa: it takes about 4 or 5 hours to get here by car because of the bad conditions of the roads. Unfortunately, there are almost no connections by public transport from Trapani and Palermo to Ragusa.
For more information about flights and airlines check out our page Sicily Airports