Ragusa Superiore is the modern part of Ragusa sitting on the top of the hill, separated by a deep ravine, the Valle dei Ponti, from Ragusa Ibla.
A walk from Ragusa Superiore to Ragusa Ibla via the Santa Maria delle Scale, a 15th century church, is a must for its vista of winding pathways and plant filled cliffs. It takes about half an hour to descend the Salita del Commendatore.
The “modern” town has been developed on a framework of straight, parallel streets intersecting at right angles to each other, to form a grid like pattern up the side of the Patro hill. Grey stone houses and baroque palazzi are effectively Ragusa’s historic centre and it’s quite magnificent.
The elegant via Roma, bisects the town on a parallel axis to the side of the hill, the perpendicular long main street Corso Italia, cuts trough the upper town and makes for Ragusa’s best promenade.
On the right is Piazza San Giovanni, overlooked by the church with the same name, Cattedrale di San Giovanni, the main attraction of Ragusa Superiore dating from early 18th century and dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Pause on the elegant square in front of the cathedral and look uphill to admire its decorative facade, which is made asymmetrical by Mario Spada’s pretty campanile on its western side. Its front elevation contains a wide terrace. The inside is ornate, especially the stucco decorations in the cupola. Tha Latin cross interior is notable for its two orders of pillars, each made of locally quarried asphaltite (www.cattedralesangiovanni.it).
Uphill, above the cathedral, it crosses Via Roma, which to the north ends in a belvedere, La Rotonda, with a view of Ragusa Ibla a d the San Leonardo gorge. Farther long the Corso Italia, on the left is the 19 century Chiesa del Collegio di Maria Addolorata, with Palazzo Lupis beyond. Via San Vito follows with Palazzo Sacco at no. 156, marked by a great coat of arms supported on decorative brackets on the corner. Note the balcony brackets projecting from the lateral facade carved with figures and grotesques.
Back in Corso Italia, a short distance farther along on the left, rises the 18 century Palazzo Bertini. Three masks peer down from the carved window keystones. According to tradition, these personify a hungry and toothless pauper; a nobleman, serenaly confident of his special status, and a prosperous merchant with the self-satisfied expression of the rich.
South on Via Roma takes you towards Ponte Nuovo, which crosses the little Santa Domenica stream high above the public gardens of Villa Margherita. From the bridge, there is a good view of Ponte dei Cappuccini and Ponte Papa Giovanni XXIII beyond. Across the bridge is Piazza Libertà, with Fascist-era buildings.
Just before the Ponte Nuovo bridge is the Museo Archeologico Regionale Ibleo, located at Palazzo Mediterraneo, displays artifacts recovered from ancient colonies in the surrounding area. The best of the collection is a reconstruction of the Classical necropoli at Camarina and Rito, 16km (10 miles) northwest of Marina di Ragusa. Assaulted by the Carthaginians, the colony was finally leveled by the Romans as early as 958 BC.
Where to Stay
One Bedroom in Ragusa Superiore with walk in closet. Set in the heart of Ragusa Superiore, this pretty bedroom is few minutes walk from the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista. The room, modern and bright, include a private bathroom with hairdryer, air-conditioning, LCD TV and free WI FI.
Studio Ragusa Superiore.
Where to Eat