The small town of Ispica overlooks the sea from the same high ground on which a fascinating prehistoric site, stood. The area is rich in archaeological finds and surrounded by lush, Mediterranean vegetation which is typical of the valleys in the area.
The town is famous for the quality of its baroque architecture which resulted in its being selected as the setting for Pietro Germi’s famous film ‘Divorce Italian Style’. The town’s most notable church is the eighteenth century Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which stands in the square of that name.
In front of, and around the imposing Basilica, stands the ‘Loggiato del Sinatra’ which was built in 1749 based on Bernini’s design of St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The gallery is semi-circular in design and is composed of three central and ten lateral arches all in Rococo style. At the time of writing these were being restored to their original state.
The Palazzo Bruno di Belmonte in Corso Umberto, which serves as the town hall, is the most important Art Nouveau building in the province of Ragusa. Art Nouveau is termed ‘Liberty Style’ in Italy, and work on this building started in 1906 based on a design by Ernesto Basile, one of the most important Art Nouveau architects in Europe.
From the city it is possible to visit the Forza Archaeological Park and the Caves of Ispica. This is via 100 hundred steps cut into the rocks from which it is possible to see traces of Byzantine frescoes. A further 280 underground steps take you to the valley’s floor. The Forza Archaeological Park is an archaeological area some 13 kilometres long which is rich in historical settlements, churches and rock tombs.
The southern coast of the Ispica region has been awarded a blue flag in the Environmental League’s guide. It is characterised by very long, sandy beaches starting at Marza and Porto Ulisse, and which continue through Castellazzo and Santa Maria del Focallo as far as Pozzallo. Then entire stretch of long, golden Mediterranean beaches is protected by high sand dunes on which acacias, junipers and grasses grow.
Nearby it is possible to visit Modica, Ragusa, Caltagirone, Noto, The Vendicari Reserve, Marzamemi, Sampieri , Palazzolo Acreide and many other cherished villages which have served as the settings for television programmes based on Andrea Camilleri’s books.
Vigata, Marinella and Montelusa have all been created using this area as a backdrop, and in doing so its fame has been spread across Europe.
PICS FROM THE AREA