For once not leading a tour for RWH, Eileen and Paul Lyons spent a welcome few days’ winter holiday in Ragusa Ibla in the Val di Noto in south-east Sicily, familiar to fans as the scenic setting for TV’s Inspector Montalbano series.
Ragusa has two distinct areas: the lower and older town of Ragusa Ibla, and the higher Ragusa Superiore (Upper Town). The two halves are separated by the Valle dei Ponti, a deep ravine crossed by four bridges. Along with much of south-east Sicily, Ragusa was destroyed by a huge earthquake in 1693, the legacy of which today is an outstandingly beautiful town, rebuilt in both medieval and Baroque styles during the 1700s. Along with seven other towns in the Val di Noto, It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, after Noto itself, is one of the best examples of the Sicilian Baroque architectural style.
The old town is warm, welcoming and characterful and seems to cling to the hillside in haphazard fashion. Enjoy ambling through the quaint narrow streets, quiet sunny squares and shady palms of the gardens of Giardino Ibleo, laid out in the 19 th century. Marvel at the splendour of the Cattedrale di San Giorgio (1744) and surrounding square.
Take time to sit and enjoy it all. Take in the views to and from Ragusa Superiore (if possible as the sun sets) and across the valley. Revel in the endless photo opportunities. Take a leisurely meal – local, simple and well cooked food and wines (try the Nero D’Avola for rich and juicy red) are available in restaurants such as Quattro Gatti and La Rusticana. Take in a café or two, early or late, enjoy good coffee, cannoli or pistachio ice cream. Café Noir in Via XXV Aprile is small but full of character and very reasonable, while Café Biancomangiare near the Cathedral is more modern and has a prime location.
Very sadly, all too soon we have to leave, but we hope to return before long. Lucky Adagio clients, for there is a new holiday there this year,Montalbano’s Sicily! You will have a whole week for all these pleasures and more and will be staying in the well located and lovely hotel Il Barocco, very near to the Giardino Ibleo and Corso XXV Aprile. We think you will want to go back as well!