Arrival at the hotel and accommodation in private rooms. Meeting with our assistant and distribution of publicity material.Meeting with the naturalist guide that will lead us to discover the Ispica Cave which is situated between the city of Modica and the town of Ispica and that extends for 13 km.
Breakfast at the hotel.
Return to the farmhouse and overnight stay.
Breakfast at the hotel and chance of horse riding along the enchanting beaches of Santa Maria del Focallo.In the afternoon, visit to the historical city center of Ispica which was rebuilt after the earthquake in 1693.
Return to the farmhouse and overnight stay.
Visit to Ragusa Ibla
One of the most fascinating towns in Sicily, Ragusa has caused many a visitor’s jaw to drop as they first set eyes on the lower part of the town.
Essentially Baroque, the Ragusa you will see today dates almost entirely from 1693. Indeed, it was in this year that Ragusa, along with its neighbours, Noto, Modica, Scicli and Catania, was razed to the ground by a terrible earthquake that hit most of the eastern side of Sicily.
Public opinion on where to rebuild the town was divided, and so a compromise was made.
The wealthier, more aristocratic citizens built a new town in a different site, now Ragusa “Superiore”, while the other half of the population decided to rebuild on the original site, on a ridge at the bottom of a gorge, now Ragusa Ibla.
The two towns remained separated until 1926 when they were merged to become the chief town of the province, taking the place of Modica.
While the upper part has its fair share of architectural delights, it is the smaller Ragusa Ibla down below that really draws visitors.
What to see in Ragusa Ibla:
– the Basilica di San Giorgio, built in 1738 by Rosario Gagliardo.
– the Chiesa di Maria delle Scale (St. Mary of the Stairs) lies between Ragusa Superiore and Ragusa Ibla.
It was not totally destroyed by the 1693 earthquake as can be seen from the Gothic Catalan-style arches in the right aisle. As its name might suggest, the church is reached via 242 steps, though the reward at the top is worth it.
If you are a fan of the hit Italian detective series Inspector Montalbano, you may recognise the view from the Church of Maria delle Scale from the panoramic shots of Ragusa Ibla that set the scene for a great deal of the episodes. Many of the scenes from the series were filmed in and around Ragusa Ibla’s beautiful Piazza Duomo.
Return to the farmhouse and overnight stay
Visit to the Oasis of Vendicari and lunch at a bio restaurant
Set up in 1984, this Nature Reserve is a wildlife oasis set between Noto and Marzamemi.
Its wetlands are of great interest, home to several species of wading birds which nest here each year.
Its environmental value is accompanied by archaeological heritage: there are many remains dating from the Byzantine period, such as small churches and necropolises, but the true symbol of the reserve is the 18th century tuna fishery . Lunch at a bio restaurant. This small restaurant is located a short walk from the entrance of the stunning nature Reserve Vendicari.
When you drive in, you can’t miss the tables set in the lovely garden on your left. If it’s on the menu, order pasta con le sarde (Sicily’s unofficial national dish) whose Sardine-fennel sauce was a revelation.
Diners sit in a most serene garden setting, the massive trees and fields of Vendicari framing the property.
It’s a spot not to be missed while visiting the reserve and during the summer months, reservations are a must.
Menu 1 30€
Menu 2 25€
A day at the the agricultural and fishing farm “Macrostigma”.
There you can practice game fishing and you will also take part to a cooking class.
Visit to Noto
Noto is, quite simply, the apotheosis of Baroque town planning and architecture. Completely destroyed by the terrible 1693 earthquake, it was rebuilt from scratch on a new site, about 10km from the old centre. The main building material used was local compacted limestone, a substance that seemingly absorbs the sun’s aureate rays and transforms them into a soft golden-honeyed glow.
The effect at sunset is quite something. The main thoroughfare is Corso Vittorio Emanuele along which many of Noto’s most representative buildings stand. It begins at the Porta Reale and extends east via three piazzas, each with its own church. The public gardens are situated along this road (or at least looking on to it) as are the Monastero del Santissimo Salvatore with its graceful tower, the inspired Palazzo Ducrezio, the Cathedral (whose dome collapsed in 1996), the Church of San Francesco, the Jesuit Church and College and Palazzo Nicolaci di Villadorata.
All these buildings are obviously Baroque in style but each is unique with its own fascinating design. A UNESCO Heritage site, Noto is not to be missed, even if Baroque architecture is not your cup of tea. More than just a “Baroque” town, it is a subliminal expression of originality, fantasy, obsession and man’s resilience in the face of the overwhelming force of nature.
Transfer to airport and end of services.