A small, tranquil town in the Val di Noto of southeast Sicily between the Cava San Leonardo and Cava Santa Domenica valleys, Ragusa is the perfect place for visitors wanting to branch out and see the rest of Sicily while avoiding the crowds of Palermo.

Although the earliest settlers were the Sicel tribes in the 14th century BC, it was only under the Romans much later that the current site was established and developed. After the fall of Rome, Ragusa was conquered by the Byzantines and controlled for four centuries until the Arab takeover in the 9th century AD. Finally absorbed into the kingdom of Sicily after a brief period of Norman rule, Ragusa’s fate was closely tied to Sicily thereafter, falling to France and then Spain during the Middle Ages. As with the rest of the island, the 1693 earthquake devastated the city but, more uniquely, led to half the population moving. Indeed, it was only in 1926 that the city was reunified.

Now a regional centre for agriculture, Ragusa’s tourist trade has also expanded thanks to its delightful mixture of relaxation, culture and entertainment.


Reflecting the city’s divided past, Ragusa is separated informally by a bridged ravine between the older and lower Ragusa Ibla town and the upper Ragusa Superiore. The central point of interest in Ragusa Superiore is the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, designed and built in its current guise between 1718 and 1778 after the aforementioned earthquake of 1693. As well as the flamboyant Sicilian Baroque façade and interior, the Cathedral is adjacent to a similarly styled campanile (bell tower).

The most impressive religious buldings can be found in the Ragusa Ibla. The first port of call for the visitor should be the Duomo di San Giorgio, built in 1738 with a Sicilian Baroque façade and a large 19th century neoclassical dome. However, there are many other examples of fine architecture in the old town, including the Church of Sant’Antonio, marrying Gothic and Norman architecture, the 17th century Church of St. Joseph and the Church of Immacolata, remarkable for its surviving 14th century portal.

Strewn across Ragusa are a number of Baroque palaces like the Palazzo Zacco, the Palazzo la Rocca, the Palazzo Bestini and the Palazzo della Cancelleria. Representing some of the best architecture in Sicily, these palaces are the reason for Ragusa’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage site and cannot be missed.

If you’re looking to relax though, the areas around Ragusa contain a number of beaches. The central tourist resort is the Marina di Ragusa but, if you’re a watersports fan, the Marina di Modica is recommended instead. Alternatively, the beach of Pozzallo is some 30 km away, while the Sampieri village beach is located near Scicli.

The main museum of Ragusa is the Hyblean Archaeological Museum in Ragusa Superiore, which specialises in the Bronze Age and the Roman city.

For a quiet stroll, be sure to check out the Hyblean Gardens, providing fantastic views of Ragusa’s countryside and architecture.


Ragusa specialises in Sicilian embroidery, originating from the 14th century, and you will find craft shops everywhere in the town. There is even a museum devoted to the art in nearby Chiaramonte Gulgi.

The main shopping area in Ragusa is the Via Roma.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Sicilian cuisine dominates restaurants in Ragusa with a few local specialities based around the local caciocavallo ragusano cheese like cascavaddu all’arginetera and the cavatieddi pasta. The local wines are also excellent.

For fine dining, the place to go in Ragusa is the Michelin-starred Restaurant Al Duomo in the old town.

If you just want a drink, the Via Dante is packed with bars. However, Ragusa’s club central is the Marina di Ragusa resort, which includes the huge Koala Maxi disco.

Tourist Information

Ragusa Regional Tourist OfficeVia Capitano Bocchieri, 3397100RagusaTel: +39 (0)93 262 1421


The nearest international airport to Ragusa is the Catania-Fontanarossa Airport, some 100 km away. Buses and trains can be used to reach Ragusa itself.

International and domestic connecting flights are available to limited destinations within the continent.

British Airways (London-Gatwick) use Catania-Fontanarossa to and from British destinations.

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