Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ragusa Ibla Walking Tour:

Hey there! It's been a while, but I'm back with my suggested Ragusa Ibla walking tour (click on the map to enlarge):

1- Take Corso Mazzini downwards towards Ibla. You’ll arrive to a small square. You’ll see the Church of the Madonna dell'Idria. Built in the 14th century, this church belonged to the legendary Knights of Malta (if you read Dan Brown and you’re drawn to templar-conspiracy theories, you’ll probably enjoy this detail). It’s name (from greek) stands for “She who shows the way”. The church was restored in the 18th century in the late baroque style that characterizes the entire Val di Noto.

2- Next to the church you’ll see Palazzo Cosentini with some interesting balconies featuring grotesque masks.

3- Keep going on Via del Mercato you’ll arrive to a square. On your right, you’ll see the Church of the Anime Sante del Purgatorio (Church of the Holy Souls of Purgatory) on top of a flight of stairs. The church's bell tower's has its foundations on one of Ibla's ancient Byzantine walls.

4- A few yards from the church you’ll see the 18th century Palazzo Sortino Trono, another example of local Baroque architecture.

5- Keep walking along Via Del Mercato and turn right on any of the narrow streets until you reach Via Capitan Occhipinti. You’ll find the main square Piazza Duomo ending in Ibla’s centrepiece, the Chiesa di San Giorgio (St. George’s Church). Built by siracusan architect Rosario Gagliardi. The church was built in the 18th century on the site where an older church stood before the 1693’s earthquake. The dome was a later addition of architect Carmelo Cultrari and was finished in the 19th century.

6- Turn your back to San Giorgio’s Church and keep walking towards Piazza Pola. On your right you’ll see another couple of interesting buildings: The Circolo di Conversazione (a sort of private gentleman’s club unfortunately not open to the public).

7- And the Palazzo Donnafugata.

8- On your left you’ll see another church (it seems you can never have enough churches in Italy) the Church of San Giuseppe

9- And the Palazzo Comunale (the City Hall).

10- Following Corso 25 Aprile and then Via Giardini, guess what you’ll see? Yup, yet another Church, the Church of Santo Tomasso on your left.

11- Keep going ‘till you find yourself in front of a gated park called Giardino Ibleo. The garden is very pleasant and it also contains… not one but THREE churches (I rest my case). The first one is the Church of San Domenico.

12- The second one is the Church of San Giacomo, originally built in the 14th century, the interior has a beautiful ceiling painted by Matteo Battaglia.

13- The third church inside the gardens is the Church of the Cappucini. All three churches had to be rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake.

14- Right outside the park, on your left, you’ll find Il Portale di San Giorgio (Saint George’s Doorway) built in Gothic style, it depicts St. George slaying the dragon. It’s all that remained of the ancient Church of Saint George, after the earthquake.