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A town with very ancient origins, Ragusa is situated at a height varying from 500 metres above sea level of the original nucleus, to 600 metres of the new part, built from the eighteenth to nineteenth century in the area called Patro. Ibla already existed at the time of the Siculi, as we know from tombs in the Gonfalone valley and the funereal remains kept in the local archaeological museum. It was occupied by the Greeks, who called it Hybla Heraia; after the Greeks came the Romans, who modified the term Heraia first to Hereum and then to Hereusium; under the Byzantines the latter name changed into Reusia, which gave the Arabic Ragus and then at last the present-day form Ragusa. With the Normans the town developed a lot, so much that it became a county town under Geoffrey de Hauteville, son of Roger I. There were difficulties in the Hohenstaufen period, in which the county was suppressed. However it was restored under the Angevins, and went to the powerful Chiaramonte family. With the successors of the latter, the Cabreras, towards the middle of the fifteenth century the main town of the county became Modica. Destroyed by the 1693 earthquake, Ragusa was rebuilt in two separate places, giving rise to two distinct communes, Ragusa and Ibla, which subsequently were united; then they were again separated, but they were reunited for good in 1926, when Ragusa became a provincial capital.
A lot of churches and mansions embellish the town, especially in the Ibla area. Here, among all the other monuments, stands out San Giorgio church, done by Rosario Gagliardi: it is one of the most splendid eighteenth-century Sicilian Baroque churches. The economy of Ragusa has been linked for centuries to agricultural activities; this is reflected in a clear and striking way in the famous farms and the geometrical network of dry-stone walls in the Ibla plateau. In the 1950's arose the euphoric hope of industrial development connected to oil, in addition to the already existing asphalt mining activity.
Still today the traditional activities of this place, appropriately updated, are at the basis of Ragusa economy: agriculture with the introduction of greenhouse production, cattle raising with milk and cheese production, above all the celebrated caciocavallo of Ragusa province.

Source: Provincia Regionale di Ragusa


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