Ragusa Ibla, Sicily – A guide to the city split in half.

by Kelly

Ragusa is one of Sicily’s most unique towns. It is definitely one of the prettiest and most genuine experiences we have had in a long time. Ragusa is such an interesting place, it is actually split in half. An earthquake in 1693 ruined part of the town and the new part was built further up the valley, creating Ragusa Ibla and the newer Ragusa Superiore. Both are equally beautiful!

Is Ragusa worth visiting?

Ragusa is absolutely worth visiting! It has so much history and really feels like you are experiencing the real Sicily, before tourism. This is particularly true in Ragusa Superiore as Ragusa Ibla is better set up for tourism.

How to get to Ragusa Ibla?

There is no airport in Ragusa, you would reach it via bus or train from most other cities and towns.

Catania to Ragusa:

Starting in Catania you can get to Ragusa in a few different ways. There is a bus that goes from the airport direct to Ragusa, it takes about 2 hours and does make stops along the way. The cost is approximately 9€ and tickets can be bought on the bus.

The bus will stop at Ragusa Piazzale Zama, which is a bus terminal (Autostazione di Ragusa -Nodo Zama) just outside of the main area in Ragusa Superiore. From here you can catch another bus or taxi to Ragusa Ibla or into Ragusa Superiore. If you don’t have a lot of baggage you can walk into Ragusa Superiore (24 minutes and 1.8km).

Alternatively you can get a train from Catania to Ragusa with one change at Syracuse. From the train station in Ragusa take a taxi or city bus Number 1 or 3 to get to Ragusa Ibla.

The buses are ok to get around on but in our experience unless it is high season it can be a little difficult in that they don’t come very often. Some hotels will also arrange pick up ( at a fee) from the bus or train station in Ragusa.

Palermo to Ragusa:

From Palermo you can get a bus from Palermo Central to Ragusa with a change at Gela or Caltanissetta. This takes about 5 hours in total and cuts through the centre of the island at a cost of 15€.

Ragusa to Syracuse

Syracuse is a really popular town near Ragusa and we really recommend visiting it if you are going to Ragusa. We went there once we left and stayed in Syracue for 3 days which was wonderful. Take the train to Syracuse, it costs about 10€ and takes around 2 hours.

Where is best to stay in Ragusa?

Both have their benefits. Ragusa Ibla is very much set up for tourism and there are lots of things to see here. It really is the prettiest part of Ragusa and staying here would make it easy to see it all.

These are the best places to stay in Ragusa Ibla:

Budget: Terra di Venere Inn, Bella Epoque, Ragusa Inn,

Midrange: Incanto barocco, Centosedici Rooms, Casa Vacanza B&B Sangiovanni

Luxe: Hotel Vittorio Veneto, Locanda La Meridiana

Ragusa Superiore is more authentic and less touristy. It does have the cheaper accommodation options and is closer to the train station. It is beautiful and feels like you are living in the real Sicily. Not as many tourists stay here so you will be walking amongst the locals mostly.

These are the best places to stay in Ragusa Superiore:

Budget: Oikos – Ragusa Ibla, Specula Domus – Ibla, Bella Giulia

Midrange: B&B Loft Famiglia Arezzo, Il Giardino Dei Sospiri, IBLA ROOMS

Luxe: A.D. 1768 Boutique Hotel, Epoca – Camere con stile, HyblaLifeRooms

What to do in Ragusa Ibla

Ragusa Ibla has so many incredible sights, these are our favourites.

Walk the old streets

Of course the first thing you have to do in Ragusa Ibla is to wander the old streets. They are so beautiful and charming with their lovely baroque buildings. Consider doing a guided walking tour of Ragusa Ibla, these are great ways to learn about the place you visit from a local.

Visit Duomo di San Giorgio

The Duomo di San Giorgio is the biggest and most incredible building in Ragusa Ibla. Before the earthquake and the splitting of the town this was the main church in Ragusa. It is beautiful inside and outside, you can take a tour to learn about it or just happily explore it yourself. Please remember to dress respectfully, there is a sign requesting no shorts or singlets.

Other churches nearby to visit are: Chiesa di Santa Lucia / Santa Maria dello spasimo, Church of Saint Joseph and Chiesa di Sant’Agnese.

Piazza Duomo

The square in front of the Duomo, Piazza Duomo, is such a great spot to sit and enjoy a granite or meal at any of the cafes and restaurants that line it. The perfect place for people watching with a scoop of gelato or a coffee it is guaranteed to be the busiest and prettiest part of Ragusa Ibla.

Circolo di Conversazione (Caffè dei Cavalieri)

This elegant building was a club for the aristocracy. The building is pretty from the outside and you can take a tour of the rooms inside. They were used on the show Inspector Montalbano, if you are a fan I recommend a visit! This is located at the start of the Piazza Duomo.

Giardino Ibleo

Giardino Ibleo is a beautiful garden area right near a bus stop in Ragusa Ibla. Walk through the lush surrounds and take in the views from the edge. It is a great spot for a picnic, to take a drink or just to relax out of the sun. While we were there we saw a lady singing opera for a group, which was mesmerising! Amble down the paved pathways and visit the church, Chiesa di San Giacomo Apostolo, fountain and statues. There is also a playground for children.

Portale di San Giorgio

Portale di San Giorgio is a symbolic monument of Ragusa, built in the 8th century as part of a church that is now gone. It is one of the few relics that survived the 1693 earthquake.

Find the best viewpoints for Ragusa Ibla

These are the best viewpoints over Ragusa, the names are all linked to find them on Google Maps:

Mirador de Ragusa Ibla, Panoramica su Ragusa Ibla, Ragusa View point,Percorso delle Scale.

What to do in Ragusa Superiore

Watch Passeggiata

This Italian tradition is particularly noticeable in Sicily and honestly moreso in Ragusa Superiore. It is so noticeable that we were ordering pizzas (early for Italians but dinner time for us!) and were standing outside the local pizzeria takeaway. I suddenly noticed that locals were coming out of their homes, standing on the street, children running around while they chatted, some drinking coffee. We watched as they milled about, some men popping into the pizza takeaway, not to order food but to chat.

I was confused thinking something had happened, until I learned about passeggiata! This is the tradition. Every evening around 5pm locals leave their homes, walk along the street, chatting to neighbours or heading to the squares to do so. It is so lovely, such a charming tradition that I haven’t seen before. If you are staying in Ragusa make sure to be outside around this time and sit and watch the slow catch up, some people dress up for the occasion which is just lovely. Walking back to our accommodation with our pizzas we watched a couple go into an older mans store, he turned up the radio and all started couples dancing, it was just the sweetest moment to witness!

Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista

Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista is the Ragusa Cathedral located in Ragusa Superiore. It is decorated in the baroque style and is very impressive internally, free to visit it is open from 9.30am to 12.30pm and then again from 2.30pm. Behind it there is a lovely square to sit and enjoy a meal or drink in the afternoon. You can also climb the clock tower of the church.

Chiesa Ecce Homo

This beautiful church is really impressive inside. Not as many tourists visit here although it really is worth visiting.

Sanctuary of Carmine (Santuario Madonna Del Carmine)

This is another beautiful church that is not heavily visited, you will find it in the streets of Ragusa, it is very peaceful and pretty.

Ponte Vecchio (Ragusa)

This beautiful bridge with arches is a really nice sight across the Vale. It is a transport bridge so you can drive over it but it really makes a great photo from one of the other bridges as well.

Rotonda di Via Roma (Belvedere)

Great views over the valley below. It is a place where people sit and hang out, there are lots of young people here in the evenings.

Palazzo Zacco

Palazzo Zacco is a mansion in Ragusa which has a decorated exterior. Built in 1750 the most notable feature is the balconies that are supported by baroque faces.

Prefecture Ragusa

This is a council building which has a lovely round garden inside. You can wander around the interior home to government buildings.

Ragusa Post Office

The post office is another building that is worth stopping by. Built in the 1930s it is declared a cultural heritage site, the architecture is very much in the imperial style with its 9 columns holding up 9 statues.

Walk between Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla

This is an absolute must do! We walked from Ragusa Superiore to Ragusa Ibla and the incredibly picturesque views, charming buildings made it such a unique experience. We felt like we were the first people to have walked it as the gardens were all overgrown and rambling across the path and stairs.

Where to eat in Ragusa

Ragusa Chocolate

Ragusa chocolate is a must! It is actually from Modicia which is a town nearby. It is the local and authentic chocolate of the area and originates from Amazon. You will find this all over Ragusa in every store.

This Despar supermarket is the one closest to the centre, it is not huge but convenient if you are staying in the centre of Ragusa Superiore.

Pizza ___ is the best pizza place in Ragusa Superiore. We got takeway pizzas to enjoy at our accommodation and loved it so much we went back again. They make an excellent gluten free pizza also!

Best tours and activities in Ragusa

2-Hour Pottery Making Workshop in Ragusa – This would be such a unique activity! I’m hoping to do this on my next trip, the pottery is so iconic in Sicily so to have the chance to make your own is very cool.

Traditional Sicilian Cooking Class, Ragusa: Small Group Pasta and Tiramisu Class, Ragusa: Private Cooking Class at a Local’s Home These cooking classes look great, learning how to cook local food by locals is always a great experience.

Dining Experience at a Local’s Home Don’t want to cook but want to experience locals home cooking in a traditional setting? This is the activity for you!

Guided walking tour of Ragusa Ibla! Learn about this beautiful city from a local.

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