Our sailing-away life has been a bit marina centred of late and I was starting to get itchy feet for at least a few hours away from the boat. Hiring a car here for a last minute day out is just too expensive or too much hassle, so being limited to public transport a trip to Ragusa seemed the easiest option. Ragusa is our nearest large town, about half an hours drive away. Severely damaged in an earthquake in 1693, it was largely rebuilt and the upper town was formed. The older city, Ragusa Ibla, sits picturesquely on a hill, separated from the newer town by a deep ravine. We’ve been to Ragusa a few times but it’s always been tagged onto the end of something else so the chance to wander willy-nilly suited us and it being Easter (Pasqua in Italian) we thought there might have been some sort of entertainment to see too.
After the bus trip we fortified ourselves with pastries and coffee at Cafe di Viale before wandering along via Roma, admiring the view from the bridge down the green valley and laughing at the ridiculous high fashion clothes in the mega bucks shops that line the street. It seems dresses that look like tents are de-rigeur for this season’s fashionistas.
More fun to look at was an easter display in the small plots of garden that dot the pedestrian route. Made of old plastic bottles there were brightly coloured flowers, carrots and lettuce for the Easter bunny; bottle hedgehogs nestled amongst peppers and beetroot as well as a water scene containing frogs, ducks and a dragonfly. Plastic bottles are a scourge on the world but these guys had made something pretty to look at with the empties.
We then began the long descent down to Ragusa Ibla, with side trips to look at the views in the surrounding valleys. As the descent gets steeper, steps have been cut to avoid having to walk around the winding, zigzag road and the view across the roofs to Ibla keeps your mind off the fact that you’ll have to walk up these steps to get home.
The steps pass under tunnels and wiggle their way around the houses crammed together on the hillside. Many of the buildings are in a pretty bad state of repair or are completely derelict. A shame as there are lots of once beautiful dwellings now crumbling away.
Once at the bottom of Upper Ragusa it was time to head up again to Ragusa Ibla. We took a wandering route around the outside before ending up in the duomo square, went on a hunt for a ceramic head vase in the tourist shops and strolled around the gardens. We found our way to the highest point up behind the duomo for cracking views and tried to ignore the dark clouds rolling in from the west. Needing further refreshment, it was back to the piazza duomo for ice cream.
The sky had turned a uniform grey by the time we’d finished our treats and the drizzle arrived as we were still wandering our way down out of Ibla. But being Brits we knew how to deal with this situation – find a bar! We made an escape for the slog upwards to the bus during a lull in the weather but it returned with a vengeance halfway back and it began to feel like a typical British Easter day out as we trudged through the soggy, deserted streets and huddled under a shop awning waiting for the bus. And we didn’t see any entertainment. It’s not always sunny in paradise!