"Il Val di Noto"

Where also the time seems to be lost among the little stone fountains and the imposing churches, in the twilights and still warm lights of the evening of Ragusa Ibla. It was founded probably by the Siculi in XIVth century b.c., followed the fate of all Sicily and, for this reason, it has been subject to several and very different dominations, till when, in 1693, was completely razed by a violent earthquake. Historiography and legend are melted, since this moment, trying to explain still now the coexistence of two urban cores so close one to each other, Ragusa nuova and Ragusa ibla. Nevertheless, whatever is the truth, the all city is a wonderful example of Baroque Architecture, which, properly considers it in the district of the Val di Noto among the World Heritage’s monuments. Those who could understand deeply the love for genuine Sicilian food, can go eating in one of the several starred restaurants that fill the fascinating and irregular main square overlooked by San Giorgio’s Dome.

But there’s another little and picturesque town which is full of little paths and streets, rich of old shops that alternates little houses and monumental palaces: this is Modica, with its houses “clung” to the rocks, from the bottom of the valley until the top of the mountain which hosts it. Modica, with its monumental churches, its elegant Baroque and its religious festivities is enchanting. Particularly, you would have to watch the feasts in honor of the Patron Saints: San Giorgio and San Pietro. The feasts in honor of San Antonio da Padova, the 13th of July, when in the large square of the friary of “Cappuccini” you can taste the Modicane beans prepared by the same friars, with a very good red wine and homemade bread. At last, there is lots of folklore, during the Easter’s feasts, the “Madonna Vasa Vasa” the simulacrum of the Holy Mother and of the risen Christ, are carried on the shoulders throughout the city because they are looking for each other. Finally, they meet and, the holy mother lets the black mantle fall, from which white doves fly away, and she runs towards her son to kiss him. Before living this typical town, you have to stop in one of the several pastry shops to taste the wonderful Modica’s typical chocolate, created still today, according to the oldest Aztecs traditions and reinterpreted by the inspiration of the maître chocolatiers of Modica.

Leaving Modica, with the cinnamon and vanilla back taste still in your mouth, we meet Ispica, little but evocative example of rich landscape of Sicily. Created with the typical 18th century’s chess urban structure the town keeps one of the most important art nouveau building of the district of Ragusa, Bruno Belmonte Palace, design by Ernesto Basile in 1906. However, the most intense charm of Ispica, whose name was until 1935 Spaccaforno, is for sure the deep Cava d’Ispica. The millenarian canyon, custodian of the precious natural and historical - archaeological heritage of Sicily, where the prehistoric necropolis, christian catacombs, the monasteries and several and different bizantyne, medieval, renaissance and XVIIth, certainly witness human presence since the bronze age until 1693.

More recent but likewise magic and charming, 20km from Ragusa, rises the Donnafugata Castle. The name does not have to deceive. No woman escaped from the imprisonment, as many legends say, but only the free interpretation of the Arabian expression ain-as-jafat, health source, transformed in sicilian way “Ronnafuata” and then readapted in the actual name. The Donnafugata Castle , with its 2500mq and about 122 rooms, was built by the baron Francesco Maria Arezzo de Spuches and conceived as a wonderful home. That, which strikes with the look and the memory, is the variety of architectural styles. Neogothic, Neoveneziano, at intervals Arabian; the castle is the witness of care and importance that Sicilian Aristocratic Families devoted and awarded to “country houses”, Buen Retiro of the owner for long periods of the year.