Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ragusa Ibla

Last summer, while we were biding our time waiting for the sale of our new house to go through, Nick and I had the opportunity to visit a few places in Sicily that we hadn't seen before.  We didn't always agree on the destination - usually I wanted to go to the places that were close-by and Nick would more often choose places that were farther away.  I did the driving so Nick often would go along with what I suggested, but there were a couple of places that Nick really wanted to see that were quite far from Cianciana.  One was the Acantara Gorge from the previous post.  Another one was Ragusa Ibla.

Ragusa Ibla lies in the south-east corner of Sicily, below Ragusa Superiore.  The original Ragusa was built on the side of a steep hill.  In 1693, the area was hit with a severe earthquake and the town was destroyed, sliding to the bottom of the hill.  Instead of relocating the town, the townsfolk decided that they would rebuild in the same place.  As most of the rebuilding happened in the 1700s, the town today is filled with wonderful baroque architecture.  Many of the people moved to the upper part of the town - Ragusa Superiore, but some still stayed in the lower part - Ragusa Ibla.  While some of Ragusa Ibla is now falling down, some is still standing and is being maintained beautifully.  A stunning example of this is the Cathedral of San Giorgio.

What I loved most about Ragusa Ibla were the winding, narrow streets that took us to surprising places.  We followed one up a set of stairs and past some lovely old row houses - well kept and striking.  We rounded a corner and found ourselves walking along a narrow path lined with baroque shells.  This wasn't apparent immediately until I put my face up to a couple of the windows and found that the interior of the houses dropped two floors to what had become a grass-strewn yard over the years.  Some of these interiors now had trees growing inside them, yet from the outside it looked like you could knock on the door and someone's nonna would answer and beckon you in for a glass of wine or a cup of espresso.

Enjoy here some of my pictures of the buildings in Ragusa Ibla.

For more information about this stunning corner of Sicily, I would recommend you read Baroque Sicily by Jann Huizenga.  Jann lives in Ragusa Ibla and her blog is full of interesting bits of info and lovely pictures about the area.

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