A taste of Sicily …on two levels

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RAGUSA is a town of two halves – a split level cluster of ancient buildings that definitely has the wow factor.

The Upper Town, built on the slopes of southern Italy, looks down on the Ibla, or Lower Town, which is the site of the original settlement here.

The quirky two-tier town arose from the devastation of an earthquake in 1693 – half the residents decided to rebuild their homes up the hillside. The rest opted to stay where they were down below and build there.

What you’re left with, whatever level you choose to explore, is a taste of not only old Italy, but old Sicily – a slice of life unlike anywhere else in Europe.

MUST-SEE IN RAGUSA

Cathedral of San Giovanni
The cathedral of San Giovanni in Ragusa is located in Piazza San Giovanni. This ancient church was built during 1707-1778 and has a beautiful Baroque architecture and interiors. The cathedral has some interesting details and artworks.

Old Portale di San Georgio
The Portale is situated in Via Normanni. The Portale is the doorway of an ancient church of San Giorgio that was built in the XIV century. The architecture is Gothic Catalan style, and quite unique in this region, a must visit for architecture lovers.

Giardini Iblei
The Giardini Iblei is a large public garden that has three medieval churches on its grounds and has beautiful views of the valley of Irminio. The style of the garden and the churches is half English and part Italian and is quite an interesting place to visit and spend an afternoon relaxing in the gardens.

Archeology Zone
The archeology zone in Ragusa is a small but an interesting zone that has ancient Roman and Greek ruins. The Hallenistic Greek ruins date back to the 3rd century BC while the Roman ruins in the archeology zone go back to as long as the 4th century AD, an interesting place to learn about the history of Ragusa.

Palazzo Bartini
The Palazzo Bartini is an ancient palace that has been in Ragusa since centuries. The palace is built in the Baroque style of architecture and is intimidating in size; the interiors are all splendidly decorated.

SHOPPING IN RAGUSA

There are two or three large shopping centers in Ragusa for those who are looking for branded items. Other than these the shopping streets at Via Roma, Corsa Italia and Via XXV April are good places to buy locally made things and traditional Sicilian souvenirs and products. In Ragusa there is a different market on every day of the week but they are all in different zones of the city. The largest market is on every Wednesday next to the football stadium. These local markets are places where the locals do their daily shopping.

EATING OUT IN RAGUSA

THERE are many restaurant choices in Ibla. The most popular are the Nuova Rusticana, the Ristorante Il Saracina and the Locanda Don Serafino.

The Upper Town has restaurants offering exceptional value, including Al Bocconcino with its menu of traditional local dishes and the Corso Vittorio.

If you want ice cream try Gelati Divini, which sells a mouth-watering selection of ice cream, some made from wine!

WHERE TO STAY IN RAGUSA

RAGUSA has plenty of hotels and well as Bed & Breakfasts in all parts of the city.

Depending on your requirements and preferences the prices would vary, but unless it is a tourist seasons the rates are not very high. There are also quite a lot of small charming hotels that are run by families which have the feel of a traditional Sicilian home, these are also quite inexpensive but comfortable. Some of the best places to try in Ragusa for accommodation are Jonio, Locanda Don Serafino and Palazzo Castro al Duomo.

There are also a lot of villas and apartments available on rent in Ragusa for those planning to stay for a longer period of time.

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