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Set amid the rocky peaks northwest of Modica, Ragusa is a town of two faces. Sitting on the top of the hill is Ragusa Superiore, a busy workaday town with sensible grid-pattern streets and all the trappings of a modern provincial capital, while etched into the hillside further down is Ragusa Ibla. This sloping area of tangled alleyways, grey stone houses and baroque palazzi on handsome squares is effectively Ragusa's historic centre and it's quite magnificent.

Like every other town in the region, Ragusa Ibla (the old town) collapsed after the 1693 earthquake and a new town, Ragusa Superiore, was built on a high plateau above. But the old aristocracy was loath to leave the tottering palazzi and rebuilt Ragusa Ibla on exactly the same spot. The two towns were merged in 1927, becoming the provincial capital at Modica’s expense.

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