Ragusa was devastated by an earthquake in 1693. The subsequent reconstruction of its oldest part, Ibla, meant the city had two distinct areas: Ragusa itself and Ibla, where the focus was on rebuilding the palazzi and churches and showcasing the sumptuous Duomo, raised to the highest point. Thus, Ragusa Ibla has retained a hybrid, half-medieval, half-Baroque feel, which is what makes it so appealing, so surprising and so unique.
Cosentini palace (Palazzo Cosentini)
- Piazza Repubblica, 97100 Ragusa
Church of San Giuseppe
- Piazza Pola, 97100 Ragusa
The façade of this church strongly resembles that of San Giorgio, and many have consequently attributed it to the same architect, Gagliardi. Inside it is laid out on an oval plan, topped by an oval dome. The tiled floor is decorated with ceramics and black stone. The grilles allow altar servers to assist in the mass without being seen by the congregation.
Duomo di San Giorgio
- Piazza del Duomo, 97100 Ragusa
- +39 0932 220085
- daily except Tue morning 10am-noon, 4pm-6.30pm
With its large neo-Classical dome lit by blue stained-glass windows and surrounded by Corinthian columns, the church can be distinguished from afar. Close up, it is the superb flight of stairs which attracts the visitor’s eye to the elegant and harmonious pink façade. Pretty sculpted motifs decorate the doorway and enhance the depiction of St George slaying the dragon with his lance. Inside the building by Rosario Gagliardi there is a frieze which matches the one on the façade.
Ibleo garden Giardino Ibleo
- Piazza G.-B.-Odierna, 97100 Ragusa
This garden at the furthest point of Ragusa Ibla is home to a number of churches: San Giorgio Vecchio with its rich Catalan Gothic portal, San Giacomo with a historiated ceiling dating from 1754 (the false dome in a trompe-l’oeil style is quite beautiful) and finally the Chiesa dei Cappuccini which has an attractive triptych by Pietro Novelli.
- Donnafugata, 97013 Comiso
- +39 0932 619333
- Official website
- 6 €
- Tue, Thu and Sun 9am-1pm, 2.45pm-5.30pm (4.30pm end Oct-end Mar); Wed, Fri-Sat 9am-1pm
The origins of the castle go back to the mid-17C, but it was reworked until the early 20C. On the façade, you will notice the elegant, Venetian Gothic-style loggia and the trefoil arches of its gemel windows. Inside, the great hall of coats of arms is worth visiting to see the nobiliary insignia of some of Sicily’s foremost families painted on the walls. The trompe-l’oeil ceilings in the Hall of Mirrors, the Music Room and Billiard Room are fabulous.
Caltagirone, famous for its pottery, is a fascinating town with bridges, stairways, narrow streets and a patchwork of gardens… An elegant town, the homogenous architecture of which is predominantly Baroque… A pretty town that paints its bridges and balconies blue and yellow. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002, Caltagirone has managed to preserve an undisputable charm and its own unique personality in the face of the passing centuries.
Caltagirone Regional Ceramics Museum
- Via Roma, 160/Via Giardino Pubblico, 95041 Caltagirone
- +39 0933 58418
- 4 €
This museum is established in the Teatrino del Bonaiuto, a curious 18C building decorated with majolica. Here, you are given a comprehensive history lesson on Caltagirone. Amongst the collections of objects which testify to the changes in shape and design, you will notice a beautiful crater from the 5C BC, depicting a potter and his young apprentice.
Stairway of Saint Mary of the Mount
- Piazza Umberto-I, 95041 Caltagirone
This monumental staircase was built to link the ancient town centre, the seat of religious power, with the modern town, lower down where the civil buildings were. It has 142 steps covered with individual ceramic tiles in a blend of Arab, Norman, Spanish, Baroque and contemporary influences. The Chiesa Madre Santa Maria del Monte stands at the top.
VILLA ROMANA DEL CASALE –
Casale Roman Villa
- Strada Provinciale 15, Piazza Armerina, 94015 Piazza-Armerina
- +39 0935 680036
- Official website
- 10 €
- Jul-Aug: 9am-11pm; Apr-Jun and Sep-Oct: 9am-6pm; Nov-Mar: 9am-4pm (last admission 1hr before closing
The magnificent villa of Casale owes its renown to an amazing pavement almost entirely covered in mosaics. This unique work, attributed to African craftsmen, reveals an incredibly diverse choice of colour and subjects and is amazingly well preserved. Anyone visiting Sicily must absolutely pay a trip to the villa, a Unesco World Heritage site.
Piazza Armerina’s Franciscan Complex
- Via Cavour, 94015 Piazza-Armerina
This 18C complex is today a hospital but it has a brick and sandstone church adorned with a campanile crowned with a conical spire in majolica. To the south side of the convent there is an attractive balcony decorated with Baroque consoles by G.V. Gagini.
Piazza Armerina Duomo
- Piazza Duomo, 94015 Piazza-Armerina
It is hard to miss this impressive Baroque church topped by a high dome overlooking the centre. The bell tower has Gothic-Catalan windows. The façade of the cathedral has a doorway with twisted columns and a large square window surmounted by an eagle, the emblem of the Trigona family. The interior is rich in works of art: there is an attractive wooden crucifix from 1455 and a Byzantine effigy of the Madonna of Victories.
Enna is nicknamed – not unreasonably – the “navel” and “Sicily’s belvedere”. The highest provincial capital in Italy, the city boasts a superb location on a 948m-high plateau in the centre of the island and surrounded by pale hills dotted with the odd olive tree. Right at the top, sticking out above the tawny-coloured rooftops, is Sicily’s largest fortress, a reminder of Enna’s former strategic importance.
Cathedral of Enna – Duomo
- Piazza Mazzini, 94100 Enna
- 9.30am-1pm, 4pm-7pm