Ragusa, capital of the most south province of Italy, located on the Iblei mounts, its latitude is lower than Tunis. Its population is 70, 000 habitants, and its territory extension is 44,200 acres
Ragusa, called "Hybla", existed already in Sicilian age, as it proves the tombs of the Golfalone Valley and also the funerary finds conserved in the local Archaeological Museum.
It was occupied by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantine, Arabs and in the Norman period it reached its splendour.
Ragusa was completely destroyed by the earthquake in 1693 (the whole "Val di Noto" was hit), and
its reconstruction represents the most significant example of double reality from the urban point of view: the one from Ibla, result of various functional adaptions of the old town on the hill and the one from Ragusa, founded after 1693, rare example of new planning with a street net according to the criteria that inspired the baroque town planning. This is the most representing example of city splitting after an earthquake.
Such singularity is the motivation for the historical city centre of Ragusa and its 18 monuments between churches and palaces to be recognised by Unesco ( together with other 8 towns of Val di Noto) as World Heritage, and included in the World Heritage List in 2002.
The Urban System: The Historic City Centre - The Valleys
Ragusa, formed by Ibla, a historic centre without suburbs, completely surrounded by San Leonardo in the north, Santa Domenica in the south, and the Irminio River in the east, this valley is part of the urban system and passing the Arches, it goes towards the hill of "Patru" reaching the district of Santa Maria and Carmine and getting united to Ibla by stairs. It follows all the way to the upland plan until Via Gagini, actual limit of the centre going east. Going south the perimeter surrounds the district of "Capuccini" founded in 1830/1840, when the first bridge was built over the Santa Donenica Valley (Old Bridge or Capuccini or Scopetta Priest) and still exists nowadays going through the city towards the sea, and it reached its most important configuration during the Fascism.
(Liberta' Square and "Littorio district"). Nowadays, there are three bridges and two little hills in the valley.
San Lorenzo Valley on the north represents the last confluence with the Ermiro River with caves and valley's, the greatest in the southern Iblei area. Such nature of huge environmental and historical value is determined by the Regional Scenery Plan as a integrated system of high nature and it will be part of the Iblei Park of the Regional Operation Program 2000 / 2006, via a territoral program (PIT)
named "Four cities and a park to enjoy the Iblei" in construction at the moment.
The upland plan drawn by dry rock walls (real micro engineering work from the mid 1400's) and dotted by country houses (closed complexes that run all the agricultural and pastures activities of the area), villas and country constructions (used for pasture and cultivation of cereals).
The caves, fish geologic, scenery, the Palsaeolithic as the rock of Fontana Nuova) and nature heritage, a micro universe of animal and plants, which created interest from the Region side that classified some parts a "Natural Reserve".
The lower hill, and the "Carrubo" area, full of bovines, olives and Carob trees, and filled with rich country houses such as the most important and peculiar "Donnafugata" Castle that is under the domain of the City Council nowadays.
In the Coastal area, the agriculture is based on cultivation of flowers and early produces, while the blue of the Mediterranean with its golden beaches of Marina di Ragusa and Randello, rocky coast of Santa Barbara and Punta Braccetto - Canalotti and the great weather that extends summer often until November are characteristics of the coastal area qualified by the natural reserve with the mouth of the Irmino River and its marine reserve, Randello cave and the ruins of Kamarina Greek old town and its interesting Archaeological Museum.