A Guide to Ragusa Ibla: Sicily’s Most Magical Town

Ragusa Ibla, located in Eastern Sicily, is a hidden gem that truly stole my heart. When I first saw it on Instagram, I knew I had to visit this place. It was even more magical than the pictures.

The town is known for its distinctive cityscape characterized by a series of narrow, winding streets, and the dramatic landscape of limestone cliffs.

The breathtaking views reminded me of a mini version of Matera, Italy.

However, in reality, they are quite different. Ragusa Ibla is known for its well-preserved Baroque style buildings.  The town is full of intricate facades, grand churches, and narrow winding alleyways. 

Ragusa Ibla is set on a hill, providing beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. 

The best part is that there were literally no tourists here and it’s one of the cheapest places to visit in Italy. If you’re looking to travel to Italy cheap, you’re in luck! Now let’s get into exploring the beautiful Ragusa Ibla.

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History of Ragusa

You might be wondering ‘What’s the difference between Ragusa and Ragusa Ibla?’ Well, Ragusa is split into two towns — Ragusa Superiore and Ragusa Ibla. Ragusa Superiore is the Upper Town and Ragusa Ibla is the lower one. They are both connected by a steep stairway.

In this post, we will focus on the beautiful Ragusa Ibla!

The catastrophic earthquake of 1693 prompted the city’s reconstruction, resulting in the coexistence of two distinct yet interconnected urban centers.

Ragusa Superiore, the upper town, reflects a more modern layout with wide avenues and elegant squares. In contrast, Ragusa Ibla, the lower town, retains its medieval and Baroque charm with narrow cobblestone streets, historic churches, and picturesque squares.

The UNESCO-listed cityscape showcases an amazing blend of architectural styles, creating a captivating narrative of cultural evolution and resilience through the centuries.

After the 1693 earthquake, Ragusa Ibla, along with many other towns in southeastern Sicily, underwent extensive rebuilding in the prevailing Baroque architectural style. The Baroque period was characterized by many churches being built with ornate designs. The rebuilding efforts were often sponsored by wealthy families and religious orders, each seeking to express their devotion, showcase their status, or fulfill religious obligations.

The must-visit churches in Ragusa include the Cathedral of San Giorgio, the Church of San Giuseppe, the Church of San Giorgio Vecchio, the Church of Santa Maria dell’Itria, San Giovanni Battista, and the Church of San Filippo Neri.

Best Things to do in Ragusa Ibla

1. Wake up for the sunrise

The very best thing to do in Ragusa Ibla, is wake up for the sunrise. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it. It’s one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever witnessed. Be sure to get there 30 minutes before the sunrise time.

The best place to admire the sunrise is by the famous stairway in Ragusa Ibla leading up to the panoramic viewpoint of the town is located at the Church of St Mary of the Stairs.

You can find the exact Google Maps location here.

Check out my Instagram video of me during sunrise – it was so beautiful!

2. Wander the Old Town

If you walk from the Church of St Mary of the Stairs towards Giardino Ibleo, you’ll pass all the main sights, churches including the Cathedral of San Giorgio, and other quaint streets. Just get lost in the small narrow pathways of this adorable medieval town!

3. Visit the Cathedral of San Giorgio

If you have to visit one cathedral in Ragusa, it must be the Cathedral of San Giorgio. It’s a magnificent masterpiece of Baroque architecture located at the top of Piazza Duomo. You’ll simply be in awe as you pass this beautiful and large church!

Built in the 18th century following the devastating earthquake of 1693, the cathedral showcases an ornate facade adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures.

Its grandeur extends to the interior, featuring a lavish Baroque decor with impressive frescoes, sculptures, and a high altar. The cathedral stands proudly in the central square and has become a symbol of Ragusa’s resilience throughout the years.

The panoramic views from the cathedral square really elevate the overall experience with the breathtaking backdrop of the charming streets and historic buildings of Ragusa Ibla.

Via Capitano Bocchieri is a beautiful street where you can see the cathedral from afar in between some of the old baroque buildings.

4. Take a walk through the Gardens of Ibla

Giardino Ibleo, is located in the heart of Ragusa Ibla, Sicily. This stunning public garden dates back to the 19th century.

The park features lush greenery, well-maintained flowerbeds, and scenic viewpoints. You can enjoy panoramic views of the city and relax on the benches scattered throughout the area.

5. Enjoy an aperitivo at Il Barocco

Enoteca Il Barocco has the best apertivo in Ragusa Ibla. All of the snacks are locally sourced and you can buy the products in their concept store too.

They also have a unique spin on an Aperol Spritz called an Amara Spritz. It’s made with Amara instead which is a Sicilian Liqueur made with orange peel.

Plus, when you visit here you have a nice view outside of the Church of San Giuseppe.

6. Eat dinner at Scale del Gusto

My favorite restaurant during my Sicily trip had to be right in Ragusa Ibla at Scale del Gusto. I got the Pasta ‘ncastagnata and I assure you, it was so so good! The view from the restaurant is another reason to visit.

Here was my night view of Ragusa Ibla:

7. Visit the nearby towns of Scicli and Modica

Scicli and Modica, are two enchanting towns in southeastern Sicily, both our known for their Baroque architecture and UNESCO World Heritage recognition.

Scicli is located only a 30 minute drive from Ragusa and Modica is only 20 minutes away. You’ll pretty much pass Modica on the way to Scicli so you could easily do both on a day trip from Ragusa Ibla.

Don’t miss the iconic landmarks such as the Chiesa di San Giorgio in Modica and Palazzo Beneventano in Scicli. While in Modica, try the delectable local chocolate for which Modica is known for.

Best Restaurants in Ragusa Ibla

Enoteca Il Barocco: € Amazing aperitivo where you can try a selection of Sicilian snacks with a glass of wine.
Scale del Gusto: €€ Absolutely delicious and is located next to Santa Maria delle Scale with the most beautiful view of Ragusa Ibla.
Terrazza dell’Orologio: €€ Sicilian food and wine bar; they have a rooftop terrace with a view.
“Cucina & Vino” Osteria e Ristorante €€
That’s a Moro: €€ best spot for pizza
Osteria Imperfetta €€
Duomo Ristorante: €€€ Michelin Starred
Mastrociliegia: € for the best gelato

How to Get to Ragusa Ibla

Most people fly into the Catania Fontanarossa Airport (CTA), which is located 102 km (63 miles) away and takes 1 hour and 20 minutes to drive.

I highly recommend renting a car to explore during your Eastern Sicily itinerary. That way, you have the flexibility to see many small and unique towns like Ragusa Ibla. You can also visit the major destinations in Sicily too like Taormina and Ortigia. Public transportation is not the best so it will be hard to get around if you don’t rent a car.

I use Discover Cars to get the best deals on rental cars and you can pick it up straight at the Catania Airport. Don’t make my mistake, however, and be sure to have a physical credit card (not a debit card) to rent your car. Most of the rental agencies at Catania Airport would not take my debit card as they needed a deposit hold for me to rent the car. You will also need an International driver’s permit to rent a car.

If you do, however, choose to use public transport, there is a bus that goes from Catania Airport to Ragusa Ibla. It takes 1 hour and 45 minutes and you can find the timetable here.

How long do you need to see Ragusa Ibla?

A typical visit to Ragusa Ibla only requires a half a day to a full day to explore. Within this timeframe, you can stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets, admire the Baroque architecture, visit key landmarks such as the Cathedral of San Giorgio and the Church of San Giuseppe, and take in the panoramic views from viewpoints like the Giardino Ibleo.

However, I highly recommend an overnight stay so you can really experience the place, enjoy Ragusa by night, and try the delicious food. You can also base yourself here and travel to nearby towns. I stayed 2 nights and also saw the towns of Modica and Scicli.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this post on the magical town of Ragusa Ibla!

Where to Stay in Ragusa Ibla

La Casa di Irene

When I stayed at La Casa di Irene, I couldn’t believe this view from my hotel was real!

This hotel is such a unique find. It has a private balcony overlooking the whole town. Waking up and falling asleep to these views was a true dream.

Plus, it’s only €100 a night to stay here!

The room type I booked was the  Suite with Terrace which offers the best view of all.

There is also a public terrace that any of the guests can visit next door to this room in case this room type is not available.

You can watch my Instagram video here to see what the place looks like!

B&B Belvedere All’Idria

If you’re looking for an even more affordable stay in Ragusa Ibla with a view, check out B&B Belvedere All’Idria as it’s around €50 a night.

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