Ragusa is really two towns combined into one municipality: Lower Ragusa, known as Ragusa Ibla, which was the ancient city, rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake and Upper Ragusa, the new city built in the early 1700s on the ridge across from the old city of lbla after the earthquake. "Ibla" was populated by the indigenous Siculi in ancient times and was called "Hybla Heraea,". The town became Hellenized after coming into contact with the Greeks, established in nearby Syracuse, around the 5th Century BC. In 258 BC, the city was conquered by the Romans and then by the Byzantines and the Arabs. In 1091, after the Norman conquest, Count Roger de Hauteville consolidated Ragusa and the surrounding area and gave the unusually large fief to his son, Godfroi. In 1296, Baron Manfred Chiaramonte took possession of Ragusa, and then joined it together with Modica and Noto, thus creating one of the largest feudal holdings in Sicily. Of interest is the imposing "Basilica di San Giorgio", built in 1738 by the noted architect Rosario Gagliardo. The Basilica is considered to be Gagliardo's baroque masterpiece.
Also interesting is the baroque Church of San Giuseppe, the "Giardino lbleo", the Church of San Giorgio Vecchio which still retains some elements of its original 15th Century Catalan-Gothic construction, The Church of San Domenico and the Church of the Cappucini Vecchi, noted for several paintings by the noted 16th century Sicilian artist Pietro Novelli. In Upper Ragusa of interest is the Church of Santa Maria delle Scale, restored in the 18th century, which contains some sculptures attributed to the Gaginis and the Cathedral, a large domed Baroque structure.

The little town of Acate which once was called "Biscari" was founded in 1494 on a plane not far from the sea on the valley of the Dirillo river, today full of olive groves, citrus orchards and vineyards. The nucleus of Biscari was the homonymous castle and the annexed church of San Vincenzo. Some centuries later in 1938 Biscari was called Acate. For both the permanent symbol was, and is still today, the Castle of the Princes which from the top of the hill on which today the town stands has always dominated the cultivated valley of Acate. Of interest is the Mother Church, the Chiesa di San Vincenzo and the Convento dei Cappuccini.


Laid down on a hill at the feet of mountains covered with conifers and eucalyptus, there is Chiaramonte Gulfi. The ancient Akrillai was founded seventy years after Syracuse by the Greek Syracusans and was destroyed by the Arabs who came to the island after the fall of the Roman Empire and the economic breakdown caused by the Byzantines. Mentioned in the works of Livy and Plutarch, it was important for its strategic position along the line from Syracuse to Agrigento. The Arabian caliph Asad Ibn Al Furat in 827 guided the Arabs into western Sicily to conquer the eastern part too and they named this town Gulfi. The growth brought by Arabs was supplanted by feudalism introduced by the Normans in 1070. Of interest is the sanctuary of the Madonna di Gulfi, the baroque palaces, the portal of Annunziata, the Mother Chruch. The town is also famous for its renowned gastronomy linked to the cocking of pork.

In the mountain range at whose feet stands Comiso, there was a natural environment where Siculi and Sicani, ancient Sicilian populations, extracted and worked the flint-stone. Pindaro described this landscape in the fifth of the Olympic Odes. The natives founded big necropolis such as the ones of Monte Rito, Passo Marinaro and Monte Casasia. Kasmenai was founded between Kamarina and Akrai by the Greek Syracusans in 642 as a fortified town and it was destroyed by the Romans in 212. Of interest is the Fountain of Diana, the small church of St Nicolas and the wonderful basilica of Annunziata.
To the south of the ancient Casmene, there was the present Terravecchia, the old place where once Giarratana stood, abandoned by its inhabitants after 1693. Of interest is the Mother Church St. Antonio Abate, the Baroque church of St. Bartolomeo and the Cathedral.

Ispica, called Spaccaforno until 1935, stands on a spur, 170 m above the sea level, in the coast hill which has turned to be a very fertile land. Ispica was known and is still known today for a natural landscape unique in Sicily: its gully, a very ancient inhabited area populated by the Siculi, but it also has many beautiful churches such as the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore which has become a national monument thanks to the paintings of Olivio Sozzi and Vito D'Anna and palaces.

It is the town "delle cento chiese e delle cento campane" (one hundred bells and one hundred churches) which in the fourteenth century for its power and beauty was a kingdom inside the kingdom. Its ancient name was Motyca; its power, dimmed by Greek and Byzantine domination, broke out with all its vitality during the Arabian domination, the Arabs called it Mohac. In 1296 Manfredi di Chiaramonte was given the kingdom after the King of Sicily Federico II was crowned. The golden age of the County managed to dim even the power and the magnificence of the Kingdom of Sicily. Today Modica is one of the kingdoms of baroque art and of all the artistic jewels of Sicily. Many works of art show today the signs of the Gothic-Chiaramonte style of the Counts of Modica: the church of the Madonna del Carmine, Palazzo Lena and the church of Gesù. The convent annexed to this latter church was built to solemnize the marriage between Anna Cabrera and Henriquez. The wonderful internal cloister has been declared a national monument. Very interesting is the late baroque church of St. Peter, the church of St. Georges, with an imposing and stately façade and The Museum of Art and Popular Traditions.

The History of Monterosso has been influenced by the hilliness of its territory, which has conditioned the economy since the prehistory of the built-up areas. In the area of Calaforno, in the so called "Prehistoric Hypogeum", the inhabitants got their means of subsistence exploiting the mines of flint-stones. Like the two other mountain towns of the area, Chiaramonte Gulfi and Giarratana, Monterosso is a community where gastronomic traditions and local usage and customs are still strongly related to its past. The most interesting work of art is the Mother Church, which contain a big altar- piece of San Lorenzo, the Church of San Giovanni, the Church of Sant'Antonio and the Zacco Palace.

Pozzallo was the favorite landing place of Roman and Byzantine ships and it is still today one of the most important landing places in East Sicily. Of interest is the Mother Church, the beautiful Liberty buildings, the 1845 Palazzo Musso, with its arcades, Palazzo Giunta with a balustraded terrace and the 1868 Palazzo Pandolfi.

On the slopes of the Hyblaean mountains, a few kilometres far from the sea, in a land full of carob-trees and striped with dry-stone walls Santa Croce Camerina is a site of very important archaeological settlements like Kamarina, Kaukana and the Casale S. Crucis di Rosacalambra. Before the foundation of Kamarina, in 598 B.C., in the territory of Santa Croce there were only some fishermen's and shepherd's villages; The villages existed even after the foundation of Kamarina but they lived in the shadow of the great hegemony of the Greek-Syracusan colony always remaining small centres. Of interest is the Mother Church, built in the 13th century, and of course the archeological area of Kamarina.

Scicli, one of the most beautiful baroque towns in the area of the Hyblaean mountains, was an indomitable and victorious town: the only Hyblaean town which was able to drive the Saracens out. There are numerous theories on the very ancient origins of Scicli. The most reliable one is related to the history of other nearby towns where traces of settlements of the ancient inhabitants of Sicily, the Siculi, have been brought to light. The name Scicli would come from "Siclis" that is Siculi. Scicli is a spectacular town, made of artistic spaces cut on the rock and of light and shade effects, where nature, landscapes and art in churches and palaces mix together into uncommon and beautiful contrasts. Of interest is the Church of St. Bartolomeo (15th century), the Church of San Matteo, the Church of S. Maria La Nova and the baroque Beneventano Palace.

It is the youngest municipality in the province, founded in 1607 by the Countess Vittoria Colonna, daughter of the Viceroy of Sicily. Is has a modern and regular town planning scheme, similar to a chessboard. Very important are the industrial activities connected with the vine growing (Cerasuolo di Vittoria).